Satellite camp ban hurts recruits at all levels

Any time the NCAA makes changes to recruiting legislation, people are quick to point out who gains the most with the decision. And make no mistake, the SEC was the big winner with Friday’s decision by the Division I Council to ban satellite camps effective immediately. But lost in all the finger-pointing at the SEC was the fact there’s also a major loser with the NCAA’s ruling -- the high school football recruit.

Satellite camps have been a hot-button issue in the recruiting world for the past five years and Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 teams have conducted them all over the country, but they reached national awareness after Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh conducted an eight-day “Summer Swarm” tour in 2015 that took the Wolverines' deep into SEC recruiting territory. The ACC and SEC forbid its schools from conducting satellite camps, so numerous SEC coaches were outspoken about Michigan’s camps and pushed the NCAA to get the recruiting rules changed.

The push worked.

Many, like Houston Strake Jesuit coach James Clancy, disagreed with the ruling and feel it will impact under-recruited prospctss from reaching their full scholarship potential and forever change the trajectory of their lives.

“Helping kids is supposed to be why we do what we do, and this doesn’t help them in any way,” Clancy, who had three recruits sign with FBS programs in 2016, said. “It’s very disappointing. Every year, we would have kids that didn’t need to leave the Houston area to get exposure to out-of-city or out-of-state schools. Not every kid can afford the major expense to travel to a camp. People who make the decisions need to remember that it is all about the kids who are chasing dreams.”

The repercussions will hurt future recruits who may be like Alex Barbir, who kicked in front of Penn State’s staff at a satellite camp at Georgia State. If it wasn’t for that chance, Barbir wouldn’t be one of the leading candidates to start at a Big Ten program as a true freshman and likely would have ended up at a non-Power 5 school.

Also affected will be players like DiCaprio Bootle and Davir Hamilton.

Bootle was a talented but under-the-radar defensive back in Florida. He had offers from UCF, Middle Tennessee State, FIU, Appalachian State and South Alabama, but he was still searching for his first major offer when he attended a Nebraska satellite camp in South Florida last summer. He clocked back-to-back 4.44- and 4.34-second 40-yard dashes, performed well in position drills and walked away with a Nebraska offer. He signed with the Huskers in February.

Hamilton was in a similar situation. He was committed to San Diego State but always dreamed of playing at a Pac-12 program. He attended a Utah satellite camp at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and quickly picked up an offer from the Utes. He committed shortly after and stuck with Utah all the way through the recruiting process. He said he would have never had an opportunity to play “big-time football” and expand his educational opportunities had it not been for that Utah satellite camp.

The list of players like Barbir, Bootle and Hamilton that landed major offers from Power 5 programs after satellite camps that they would have never gotten before goes an on and on.

Also impacted will be lower-level recruits that would attend satellite camps hoping to catch the eye of Group of 5 programs or FCS level teams that also coached at these camps. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald tweeted out a picture after the NCAA’s ruling that said almost 500 players earned scholarships after attending the Wildcats’ Chicagoland Showcase Camps from 2011-2014.

Many of those scholarships likely would have never materialized without the Northwestern satellite camp and the same is true now in the future all over the recruiting trail.

“We had Georgia State, West Georgia, Kennesaw State, Georgia Southern, and App State all lined up to come to our camp with Ohio State,” Central (Georgia) Gwinnett coach Todd Wofford said. “They loved and wanted that chance to evaluate that many kids that they wouldn't have had a change to otherwise. I think people forget all about them with this decision. They don’t have the budget of major universities and we will see opportunities lost because of this decision.

“This decision impacts so many players on so many different levels. The high school recruit is the big loser today.”