The NCAA’s decision last week to ban satellite football camps will make it more difficult and expensive for high school athletes to receive scholarships, according to Indy-area coaches. The decision pitted the other Power 5 conferences against the Big Ten as it sought to increase its influence outside its usual recruiting base.
One high school coach called it “a rash and foolish decision.” Another simply described it as “awful.” Their primary complaint was the same.
“Players on my team struggle to pay for all the camps and get the exposure that is needed to get to the next level,” Ben Davis coach Mike Kirschner said. “The NCAA never bothers to ask or consider the hardship their decisions cause the high school coaches. You not only eliminate satellite camps, but the ability for us to go to Ohio State and be seen by numerous (Division I) schools at the same camp. …
“Instead of worrying about which college is gaining the upper hand, do what is right for high school players and help get them to college.”
Friday’s decision to no longer allow colleges to host recruiting camps or clinics outside their normal facilities came in response to concern over the uptick in satellite camps, particularly in the South, and particularly by northern programs. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh had set up such camps in multiple southern states, and also conducted one in Indianapolis.
He was not alone in the Big Ten. Purdue also delved into the practice, conducting one in Nashville, Tenn., last summer, and had hoped to participate in more this summer.
“We were planning on going up to Wisconsin and Chicago and Cleveland for those satellite camps, as well as the one in Detroit,” Boilermakers coach Darrell Hazell said, “but obviously you can’t do that.”
The Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences led the argument against the practice. According to an ESPN report, the Pac-12, Big 12, Sun Belt and Mountain West joined those two conferences in voting for the ban, while the Big Ten, Mid-American Conference, American Athletic Conference and Conference USA voted against it.
Opponents see the satellite camps as an unfair recruiting advantage, a way for non-regional schools to encroach upon traditional recruiting boundaries and potentially circumnavigate the NCAA recruiting calendar.
Proponents attest that any opportunity for high school players to be able to connect with college coaches and programs – particularly ones outside their geographic area – is beneficial and should not be limited. They have also called into question the ban on coaches working at other schools’ camps. Often, such coaches could scout players they might not have otherwise seen, providing more opportunities both for smaller programs and under-recruited prospects.
Harbaugh didn’t temper his opinion, in an interview this week with Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg.
“It seems to be outrage by the SEC and ACC,” Harbaugh said. “The image that comes to my mind is guys in a back room smoking cigars, doing what they perceive is best for them. It certainly isn’t the best thing for the youngsters. It’s not the best thing for the student-athletes.”
Emil Ekiyor, an offensive lineman at Cathedral, is one of the top prospects in the country in the 2018 class. He has two dozen offers, including Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Ekiyor attended the Michigan satellite camp last year at Bishop Chatard.
“It was really convenient,” said his father, Emil Ekiyor Sr. “We didn’t have to drive and spend money on gas. The coaches could see him right there.”
Camp fees can range anywhere from $40-90 per camper, but that doesn’t include travel cost, lodging, etc.
Ekiyor Sr. understands the issue from a coach’s perspective, too. He was Tech’s football coach from 2011-13. Seven of his players went on to play college football and benefited from satellite camps in the recruiting process.
“A lot of parents don’t have the money to send their kids all over the place to different camps,” Ekiyor Sr. said. “They just don’t. For parents, it’s a burden now.”
Local high school coaches agree.
“At Tri-West, we rarely have the FBS Power 5-type recruits,” Bruins coach Chris Coll said. “The ability for our athletes to attend a camp that has coaches from all levels of college football working at that one camp is very advantageous for the high school student-athlete.”
“Many kids don’t (have) the ability financially to travel to multiple campuses, so this really hampers them,” Warren Central coach Jayson West said. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction to one school being too creative and, instead of regulating it, they destroyed it.”
West is referring to Michigan’s eight-day, seven-state tour last summer, which cost the school $211,948.
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said he sees merit in both arguments, the usefulness for players and coaches of such camps on the one hand, and the potential recruiting advantages on the other.
“It did get out of hand,” Wilson said. “June is a dead month of recruiting, yet because I called it a camp, I could sit there and basically talk to you and recruit you, and go around the country.”
Wilson wished some middle ground could have been found.
“I think every coach around the country would say we want to help our game,” he said. “It wouldn’t be bad if like, the Big Ten got together, and we had a Big Ten camp in Indy, and one in Chicago, and have all the Big Ten coaches there. We all get to coach, we all get to see them. We’ve got the same deal.”
He also wondered whether banning the practice of bringing coaches from other programs to work summer camps wouldn’t just incentivize hiring more high school coaches for the same jobs, which could create further headaches in regulating recruiting.
It’s not clear what college football’s next move regarding satellite camps will be – or whether there will be one at all, even as coaches from across the landscape have questioned some or all of last week’s decision.
In the meantime, amid politicking, high school coaches maintain it is their players who will shoulder the actual damage. Said Park Tudor coach Orlando Lowry:
“I don’t like anything that limits our kids from getting as much exposure as possible. I believe this ruling will hurt our kids.”
IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep and Lafayette Journal & Courier reporter Sam King contributed to this story. Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.
MORE REACTION FROM AREA COACHES ON NCAA’S DECISION
• Rick Wimmer, Fishers: “Satellite camps have always been a very positive opportunity for players. They can go to a single nearby location and be evaluated by numerous schools. This is important for HS players and families and I, frankly, don’t see the issues the NCAA has with it. They are making it more difficult for the HS player to be evaluated. Now it appears that the HS player will need to go directly to each campus for a 1-day evaluation which can become costly and more time consuming. Often smaller schools would evaluate and recruit a player from being at a satellite camp hosted by a large school. It is difficult to get a player to go to an FCS, D-2, or D-3 camp because most of them (and their parents) think they are D-1, but when many schools can come to a camp hosted by a D-1, they can be evaluated by numerous schools and, eventually, figure out where they belong. This does not sound like a rule that will help the ‘student-athlete.’ It sounds more like a rule that is going to encourage the HS athlete to spend more money and time in being recruited and less time for development, other sports, activities, and education.”
• Jimmy Graves, Pike: “I believe that most student athletes benefit from satellite camps. It is much more cost effective for a player to go to a high school across town than to travel to all the different universities. I am sure that the NCAA has a reason for making this rule but it hurts the student athlete who can’t visit many schools due to transportation and financial issues. I also hurts the small college that does not have the large recruiting budget. I worked in the small college game and anytime we could work a camp, we would because we would see players that we would not otherwise get to see. It is a bad decision.”
• Kyle Ralph, New Palestine: “I think it is a poor decision. Last year is a great example of how these can benefit kids. Many players, and their families, may not have the financial means or time allotted away from work to travel to Michigan for a camp. That takes an entire day away from families and jobs. It also costs a lot in the form of gas, hotel, camp money. In opposition to this, Michigan for example, held a camp here in Indy last year where hundreds of kids can drive less than 30 minutes and attend, receive the same evaluations, spend a fraction of the gas money, save hundreds on a hotel room, and their parents don’t need to take a day off work. College programs are the ones making millions of dollars per year they can afford to send their staff around the country to find talent. Normal American families will take a solid hit to their savings to attend these camps on campus weekly. It just makes more economical sense to let the colleges come to the kids not the other way around.
“On top of that these camps provided an incredible opportunity for local D1AA-D3 schools to find talent much easier as their recruiting budgets are much smaller. Now schools like UIndy, ISU, Wabash, Anderson, etc. can all attend the satellite camps, help work it and find talent allowing for more opportunities for skilled, but not elite level players. Again, this helps kids in a major way because there is plenty of scholarship money to be earned out there and schools like Michigan and Notre Dame aren’t going after the same kids as UIndy and ISU. Back to the economic factor, a kid and his family trying to take in a camp at Notre Dame, ISU, UIndy, and Wabash is going to spend thousands of dollars and multiple weekends.
“I think this was a rash and foolish decision that didn’t take into account the young men and their families trying desperately to get the attention of the colleges.”
• Darrin Fishers, Whiteland: “The way it has been explained to me by a Division I assistant coach, the FCS, D2, NAIA and D3 schools are still able to attend the one day camps on a DI schools campus. It will hurt that the lower level DI schools now cannot be on another larger DI schools campus to evaluate.
“A young man attending one or two one-day camps in June and being evaluated by 200+ schools is good for everyone involved. Many of our young men at Whiteland have been recruited and received offers from the FCS level and below from their performance at those one day camps.
“Forcing them to attend more college camps now (to be evaluated by Group of five D1 schools) puts more strain on them physically and financially. My two cents.”
• Mitch Street, Hamilton Heights: “I think it hampers student-athletes at all different sizes of school. However, I think it especially hurts scholarship kids at smaller schools. We don’t get anywhere close to the amount of coaches on our campus, as say for example the Indy metro schools or the southern Hamilton County schools. I completely understand this fact, it’s a numbers game, and our numbers year in and year out don’t match with those schools. Our student-athletes have always utilized camps were they can get maximum exposure for their money (i.e. Northwestern) and get in front coaches of all different divisions, because this was normally an opportunity for coaches to see a kid and put a face/skill set with a name. I think it undoubtedly hurts the student-athlete.”
• Chris Coll, Tri-West: “I’m very disappointed in this decision. From my perspective this appears to be a knee-jerk, politically motivated reaction to a feud between programs I’ve never seen recruiting in our school. The timing and total scope of the decision is rather bizarre. It angers me that feuding between programs and between conferences at the highest levels of CFB is going to impact the kids at lower levels the most.
“At Tri-West, we rarely have the FBS Power 5 type recruits. The ability for our athletes to attend a camp that has coaches from all levels of college football working at that one camp, is very advantageous for the high school student-athlete. And this rule appears to have ended those types camps. As a HS coach and the father of HS football players, I’m very concerned about the increased difficulty it’s going to place on our kids trying to get exposure and recruitment. Some just don’t have the time and financial capabilities to travel and attend multiple camps all over the Midwest or the country… so their options and chances become limited. That’s not right!
“To group all of these camp scenarios under the same rule and wipe them all out just because the SEC and the ACC doesn’t want Harbaugh and others running around the south, holding camps, makes no sense.
“This rule was not thought out very well and I would really anticipate some kind of reversal and adjustments. I’m sure there needed to be some kind of regulation, but this rule is plain and simple bad for the HS student-athletes and their families.”
• Ron Qualls, Heritage Christian: “The decision by the NCAA to suddenly ban satellite camps (and the additional impact of other colleges not being allowed to visit the camps) will have a devastating impact on both the student athlete and many colleges and universities. Satellite camps are incredibly important for our players to gain the opportunity to attend camps at a tremendous savings and be seen by multiple universities. Many, if not most, high school football players do not have the financial resources or the time to travel the distance needed to attend multiple camps in a summer. Please keep in mind, this is not only about the D1 athlete, but the hundreds of D2, D3, FCS and NAIA level athletes that will not be negatively impacted.
“I am shocked at the seemingly large number of people who view satellite camps as a new recruiting tool. Remember, satellite camps are not a new phenomenon. As a coach at Ball State in the mid 1980’s, I remember our satellite camps that were held around the state of Indiana and the ability for us to work with players that may have not had the ability (or desire) to travel to Muncie to visit our main camp. So, for years, this has been a helpful tool for colleges and the student athlete in a seemingly win/win situation. I just question how something so incredibly meaningful for student athletes, could be immediately terminated.
“Thanks for posing the question and hopefully the NCAA will revisit their swift decision.”
• Mike Kirschner, Ben Davis: “I think it is awful. Players on my team struggle to pay for all the camps and get the exposure that is needed to get to the next level. The NCAA never bothers to ask or consider the hardship their decisions cause the high school coaches. You not only eliminates satellite camps but the ability for us to go to Ohio State and be seen be numerous D1 schools at the same camp. They do not allow official visits until a player is a senior this is wrong as well. Instead of worrying about which college is gaining the upper hand do what is right for high school players and help get them to college!”
• Jake Gilbert, Westfield: “I think its a terrible decision. I think it really is costly to kids. The NCAA brags that 90% of their athletes go pro in something other than sports, yet this decision is terrible for players who can’t play at the D1 level. We have tons of kids playing college football. Most of them were seen at a school other than the one they attend. Last year Northwestern had 120 schools at their camps, including schools from the MAC, the FCS, DII, NAIA, and DIII. It was like a one stop shop for colleges and recruits to meet up. It’s not practical for our kids to go to 30 different colleges this summer.”
• Jayson West, Warren Central: “It’s a knee jerk reaction to one school being too creative and instead of regulating it they destroyed it!” I don’t personally like it as it now limits the opportunities for our kids! Many kids don’t the ability financially to travel to multiple campuses so this really hampers them! I think some regulation would have been accepted but to get rid of it completely after such a long periods of success is concerning for us! How do we get them all of the necessary exposure without them?”
• Tony Henderson, Tech: “I thought that the camps were a great source of exposure for high school aged student-athletes. Now that potential avenue to a college scholarship and subsequent degree is gone. Allot of student-athletes and their parents might not have the financial means to travel to say Ann Arbor or Iowa City for a one day event. Louisville, Notre Dame and Ohio State are the only powerhouse FBS programs within a two hour radius of Indianapolis. I guess that they will continue to prosper with talent from the Indiana counties of Marion, Hendricks, Hamilton, Johnson, etc.”