BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Southeastern Conference coaches and athletic directors will convene next week with familiar topics on the agenda, including football recruiting in general and satellite camps in particular, along with strengthening men’s basketball across the league.
The much-publicized issue of camps clearly isn’t dead, though the NCAA Division I Board of Directors in April scrapped a proposal from the SEC and ACC to ban them. The board also gave the Division I Council until Sept. 1 to make initial recommendations on the entire college football recruiting model, satellite camps included.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said Monday the league’s position remains that “recruiting should be done within the recruiting calendar established by the NCAA. Widespread satellite camps are not part of that recruiting calendar.”
And clearly the issue will be a hot topic once again at next week’s SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida.
“The concerns are still there,” Sankey said in an interview with The Associated Press. “When it was a relatively small practice, it was fine. Some will argue that there’s a lot of instruction and development that occurs. Well, that may be true in some cases. But when I talk to our coaches who now have 10-15 calls a day, it starts to become an unhealthy activity.
“And it really is about recruiting. I’m hoping that if the solutions are identified by Sept. 1. We’ll certainly talk about different strategies next week that are attentive to the full scope of issues here.”
The camps got more attention last summer when Jim Harbaugh and his Michigan staff held camps in the South. Harbaugh and other coaches say satellite camps provide opportunities for un-recruited athletes to be noticed by high-profile coaches and possibly receive scholarships.
The SEC maintains they’re recruiting tools, and Sankey said he’d welcome discussion about extending the spring evaluation period if that’s the camps’ purpose.
In April, NCAA board chairman and South Carolina President Harris Pastides said that camps are part of that recruiting review and “we share the council’s interest in improving the camp environment.”
In other words, there remains room for debate and perhaps change. Sankey certainly doesn’t feel the issue is closed.
“If you look at what the board of directors said in its press release, that language from the board agreed with our position, just not that outcome,” Sankey said. “Which seems to raise the issue of why do we have a rule in men’s basketball that we’re pursuing in football around non-institutional camps? It wasn’t about geography.
“We’ve never once complained about individuals coming in and recruiting. You know what, on an ad hoc basis somebody will say, ‘We don’t want them stealing our kids.’ But they say that about each other in our league. It’d be nice if we’d keep all of our players, but I don’t think anybody’s under the notion that that’s realistic.”
Other issues on the agenda will include:
- Time management: The power 5 conferences delayed action on several proposals limiting time demands on athletes until the 2017 convention, including mandated time off after a season and weekly off days.
The SEC had also sought a rule preventing football teams from holding practices during spring break — less than a week after Harbaugh said on national signing day that the Wolverines would practice in Florida over spring break.
Sankey said he’s spoken to athletes at all 14 SEC schools over his first year as commissioner to learn about their schedule demands.
Spring meetings, he said, will “be our first deep dive with our coaches, with our athletics directors and our presidents with that.”
- Men’s basketball. It’s a chance for new SEC consultant Mike Tranghese, a former Big East Commissioner, to address the coaches and athletic directors collectively.
“I think part of Mike’s message is, ‘We’re really close,’” Sankey said. “If you look over time, I think any conference has an ebb and flow competitively. We’ve had great runs in a number of sports but basketball, we’re in a circumstances in three of the last four years we’ve had three teams selected for the NCAA tournament.
“That’s a different number than we have in any other sport.”