NCAA officials coming to camp near you

Among its myriad other rules-related initiatives of the past year, the NCAA has cracked down on programs' summer camps. "Individuals associated with a prospect" are no longer allowed to be employed at camps, a measure that ended the sneaky practice of paying AAU runners and high school coaches significant salaries for brief appearances at summer camps. The NCAA is also concerned with various other "gray-area" camp abuses, like giving elite prospects to special treatment, better meals, better dorm rooms and so on.

Last year, when the rules were passed, the NCAA did its best to get the word out. (This effort indirectly included a one-game suspension for Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who accidentally violated the individuals-associated-with-a-prospect no-no. Izzo? Suspended? That'll get the coaches' attention.) This year, the NCAA is proceeding to the next step of the anti-shenanigans plan: Putting boots on the streets hardwood. From USA Today:

In May, [basketball enforcement director LuAnn Humphrey] said, NCAA staffers called each major Division I conference and told them to let their schools know: "This is going to be a monitoring year. We're cracking down on camps. We want to instill some deterrence and show we are really serious about this camp issue." [...]

Humphrey declined to say how many camps might be visited, only that there will be "more" than last year, and the visits will "absolutely not be random enforcement" but a product of "strategic decisions" based on information the enforcement staff has been gathering the past two to three months.

In other words, the NCAA is sending more enforcement staffers into the field this summer than ever before, and it's doing so in a strategically considered way. Considering the organization's long history of providing strict, complex rules but rarely (or inconsistently) enforcing them, this new approach is actually pretty impressive. Perhaps to its own detriment, the NCAA has never felt ominous or looming in the wild west that is basketball recruiting. If this keeps up, maybe we're in line for a change.