A-10 coaches angered by July proposal

NEW YORK -- The July recruiting period has its issues, but no one at the Atlantic 10 is terribly interested in eliminating it.

Assembling in New York City for the conference’s media day Wednesday, league coaches were equal parts stunned and angry at an ESPN.com report that the Conference Commissioners Association had voted to recommend closing the July recruiting window.

“This makes zero sense,’’ said Xavier’s Chris Mack, summing up the sentiment of his league coaching fraternity.

The Atlantic 10 sits in a particularly unique spot. The league annually ranks among the top 5-7 in conference RPI, unseating some of the big boys in the process. But without football revenue to sweeten the pot, the teams can’t compete in the pocketbooks. A-10 schools simply are not in the same budgetary big leagues as their BCS-brethren.

The July recruiting period, where hundreds of players at all levels gather in one location, makes it not only easy for coaches to see players; it makes it inexpensive.

“It’s atrocious,’’ said St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt. “It’s going to make the playing field even more lopsided. The big boys who know who they want can hop in their corporate jets and see three kids in three states in one day. I’m in Olean, N.Y. Where can I drive in three or four hours? I need quantity. The people making these decisions have no clue about the college basketball landscape.’’

The coaches point to April as proof positive that those who think they’ll remove the problem by removing July are kidding themselves.

A year ago, college coaches agreed to turn April into a dead period. But even without the coaches in the stands, the games -- and the problems -- continue.

“Kids are still playing basketball,’’ George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said. “So why not control what we can?’’

As disconcerting as the news itself, how it was revealed troubled the coaches just as much. Coaches said they were flat-out blindsided, unaware that such a conversation was being held, let alone recommendations being made, until they received an email from National Association of Basketball Coaches president Tom Izzo on Wednesday night.

“I had no idea, none,’’ said Dayton’s Brian Gregory. “I’d always heard that maybe they’d tweak it, 10 days to seven days, but unless I’ve been dozing, I never heard anything about eliminating it all together.’’

Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli, who sits on the NABC board of directors, said he spent most of the morning fielding calls from panicked and angry coaches.

He’s been able to allay their fears -- reminding them nothing can happen overnight, that before the NCAA is able to enact any legislation it has to come up for a membership vote -- but their anger is another story.

They’re ticked that they weren’t consulted, and more, stunned that there is such an apparent disconnect between what the commissioners think is best and what the coaches think is best.

“I don’t know how this stuff happens,’’ Mack said. “We, as coaches, go about our business recruiting, preparing for practicing and all of a sudden it’s 31-0 to eliminate recruiting?’’

Mack’s athletic director, Mike Bobinski, who sits on the NCAA’s men’s basketball committee, said he is on board with his coach and all of the league coaches.

“There are problems and is summer part of the problem? Yes,’’ Bobinski said. “But you can’t just up and eliminate summer and expect to solve the problem. The problems are everywhere. These drastic measures are just clumsy. They aren’t the solution.’’