LINCOLN — In an anticipated reversal of a three-week-old decision by a different committee inside its vast bureaucracy, the NCAA on Thursday lifted a ban on football satellite camps.
As a result, Nebraska’s plans for summer camps in far-flung, talent-rich locales will continue unabated.
NU had nine camps planned before the temporary ban. The Huskers’ recruiting staff had no plans of scrapping those camps — where NU coaches work as guests of other smaller schools hosting the camps — until a final, binding word came from the NCAA.
Coach Mike Riley was one of several satellite camp pioneers at Oregon State. He brought the practice to NU and said via statement he was pleased by the NCAA Board of Directors decision to rescind a ban put in place by the NCAA Division I Council.
“I’ve said in the past that I see these camps as an opportunity for both coaches and young players, and anytime you can provide opportunity I view that as a good thing,” Riley said. “The young men attending these camps benefit from good coaching that helps them further their football skills. It allows our staff to represent the University of Nebraska all around the country.”
Nebraska got one commit in its 2016 recruiting class — Miami Southridge cornerback DiCaprio Bootle — based on its many satellite camps last year. Before the ban, NU had been negotiating with other, smaller programs to participate in camps.
Ryan Gunderson, Nebraska director of player personnel, told The World-Herald in mid-April that NU had planned to work nine camps: St. Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, the San Francisco/Oakland Bay area, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Miami and Tampa.
The Detroit camp, Gunderson said, was going to have Nebraska coaches working the Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy.
Another proponent of satellite camps is Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, whose “Summer Swarm” tour in 2015 drew widespread attention.
“Good news,” Harbaugh told the Associated Press. “It’s good for prospective student-athletes, fans, coaches and competition.”
The Huskers, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 — which broadly supported keeping satellite camps — will now be joined by the ACC and SEC, which have routinely fought satellite camps in recent years and appeared to have won a key political battle earlier this month.
Now that the ban is lifted, both leagues lifted their own bans on satellite camps. The Southeast will surely now be stuffed with satellite camps from teams that already routinely recruit the region.
“While we are disappointed with the NCAA governance process result, we respect the Board of Directors decision and are confident SEC football programs will continue to be highly effective in their recruiting efforts,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement.
Sankey intimated in his statement that the SEC believes the camps are primarily recruiting events. But, earlier this week, USA Today reported that the United States Department of Justice had begun a probe into the ban and the opportunities it may have taken from kids who can’t afford camps outside their hometowns.
Harris Pastides, University of South Carolina president and chairman of the NCAA Board of Directors, said the council has to come up with a more “holistic” approach to recruiting, rather than simply banning the camps.
“The Board of Directors is interested in a holistic review of the football recruiting environment, and camps are a piece of that puzzle,” Pastides said. “We share the council’s interest in improving the camp environment, and we support the council’s efforts to create a model that emphasizes the scholastic environment as an appropriate place for recruiting future student-athletes.”
The board wants council recommendations by Sept. 1.
“It’s clear that the membership has differing views on this subject, and the council appreciates the board’s insights into this important issue,” said Northwestern Athletic Director Jim Phillips, chairman of the NCAA Division I Council. “This review will provide an opportunity to identify the most effective ways prospective student-athletes can have their academic and athletic credentials evaluated by schools across the country.”
The council voted 10-5 to ban the camps. That included ban votes from the Pac-12 and Sun Belt, although, in the weeks after the vote, it was clear from national media reports that both representatives voted against the wishes of their league’s coaches. UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero was publicly scolded by Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott for doing so. The justice department’s investigation brought more pressure.
The council is advised by yet another group inside the NCAA — the Football Oversight Committee — that formed a subcommittee to specifically study camps and clinics.
Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst chaired that subcommittee. In two interviews with The World-Herald, Eichorst has voiced support for holistic reform that includes some changes to the camp structure.
“We determined the system’s broken,” Eichorst said April 11. “Camps should not primarily be used for recruiting. That’s what they’re being used for right now. So we’ve got to get that figured out, right? It doesn’t match our rules.”
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