NCAA ruling jeopardizes WKU satellite camps

NCAA ruling jeopardizes WKU satellite camps

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NCAA ruling jeopardizes WKU satellite camps

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Though the debate over so-called satellite camps in college football has been spurred by the Southeastern Conference’s opposition to Big Ten powerhouses like Michigan and Penn State holding recruiting camps in states like Alabama and Georgia, Friday’s NCAA ruling that bans off-campus camps figures to also spell the end of lower-profile, regional satellite camps like the ones held by Western Kentucky University each summer.

It appears the ruling by the NCAA Division I Council will force the Hilltoppers to cancel three scheduled June satellite camps, including one at Collins High School.

Under coach Jeff Brohm, WKU has held regional satellite camps around the state and in Tennessee as a means to see and attract prospects to their camps who might be unable or unwilling to travel to a camp in Bowling Green. Camps like those held by non-power conference programs are far less controversial than more-publicized ones held by, say, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh in Alabama.

“We always enjoyed the reach that our satellite camps have provided us across the region,” Brohm said in a statement in response to the NCAA’s ruling. “They allowed more players to interact with not only our own coaches and staff, but to interact with coaches from other programs in our area. We will continue to explore all options to ensure players have every opportunity to gain exposure to college coaches.”

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The Hilltoppers have planned to hold satellite camps this year at Collins on June 9, Gallatin (Tenn.) High School on June 13 and McCracken County High School in Paducah, Ky. on June 14.

But the DI council announced that it has approved a proposal that would require FBS programs “to conduct camps and clinics at their school’s facilities or at facilities regularly used for practice or competition.”

Collins coach Jerry Lucas said he didn’t immediately know if the WKU camp at his school would be affected, but he worried that a cancellation would limit the access of prospects who live far away from Bowling Green to attend a WKU camp or be seen by recruiters. Lucas said about 300 players, including many from Eastern Kentucky, Northern Kentucky and Ohio, attended WKU’s satellite camp at Collins last summer.

Oct 10, 2015; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers head coach Jeff Brohm reacts during the first half against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 10, 2015; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers head coach Jeff Brohm reacts during the first half against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

“I think when the NCAA started looking into this, I don’t think what was intended was to stop what places like Western Kentucky are doing,” Lucas said.

Conference USA – WKU’s league – was among the ones to vote against the new NCAA ban, according to ESPN.com reporter Brett McMurphy.

Lucas said that Collins has reaped no financial benefit from the WKU camps but that he has loved having Brohm’s staff come to his school and work the camp. Lucas said WKU had welcomed recruiters from non-Division I colleges to evaluate players and participate at the Collins satellite camp, and the opportunity to be seen by those lower-level schools was beneficial to campers, the vast majority of whom were not FBS-level prospects.

The universities of Kentucky and Louisville don’t hold satellite camps because their conferences prohibit them. Programs from the SEC, which has voiced the strongest opposition to off-campus camps that were allowed by the Big Ten and other leagues, have said that if the NCAA didn’t take action to ban all satellite camps, they would begin holding them across the country too.

Banning the satellite camps is seen as a victory for the SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference, which can continue protecting its recruiting turf from Big Ten invaders like Harbaugh and Penn State’s James Franklin.

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