NCAA proposal could cap club recruiting

Club teams wanting to play in NCAA-certified viewing events will need to watch their rosters more carefully if proposal 2009-94 is adopted at the NCAA annual legislative meetings this week. No more than three players from outside the team's home state would be allowed on club teams and those players must reside in an adjoining state, according to the proposal.

The NCAA will vote this week on three proposals that will impact grassroots basketball, but only one, 2009-94, will impact girls' grassroots basketball.

A unpublished survey by the Women's Basketball Coaching Association found that 51.7 percent of 230 participating member coaches were in favor of the proposal, according to Shannon Reynolds, the WBCA's chief operating officer. A majority of the coaches who were not in favor of the proposal, as is, were split as to whether both a cap and an adjoining state clause were needed. Some coaches were in favor of a player cap of those outside the state, while others supported the adjoining state requirement without a player cap.

Complaints began rolling into the NCAA and WBCA offices in greater numbers two summers ago about a club team operated by Mike Flynn of Blue Star Basketball with elite players from all over the country, according to Reynolds. Even more concern was registered last summer with regard to the Nike-sponsored Tennessee Flight, which also fielded a team with players from all over the country.

The 2009 Flight team would not have qualified under either of the restrictions -- adjoining state or player cap -- in proposal 2009-94. Three players on the team's roster were from states -- California, New York and Washington, D.C. -- that did not border Tennessee. With one player from Mississippi and three from Kentucky, the Flight also exceeded the three-player cap on players from adjoining states.

Tennessee, in fact, may be one of the best locations in the country to draw players from adjoining states because it shares borders with nine states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Though most of the backlash has been directed at Flight in recent months, the fact is this legislation would have affected many other notable teams from the last five years.

Most affected will likely be two-state teams such as the Ga/Lina 76ers, which compiles its roster from South Carolina and the Northeastern part of Georgia. The Fairfax Stars is another such team, splitting players from between Virginia and Maryland. Other border areas, such as Portland, Ore., which often has solid connections to the Vancouver, Wash., area nine miles to the north, could feel the impact.

Sources who claim to have spoken with NCAA officials about the proposal told ESPN HoopGurlz that players who currently play on out-of-state teams not adjacent to the team's home state would be grandfathered in and allowed to stay with their team.

NCAA officials did not immediately return calls requesting a reaction. This provision presumably would protect players like Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who lives in Anaheim, Calif., but plays for the Tennessee Flight, or Rachel Hollivay, who lives in Columbus, Miss., but plays for Essence Purple out of Tallahassee, Fla. Another source with ties to the boys' side of the game doubted provisions would be made for current out-of-state players as they weren't on the boy's side.

Those against the proposal say the legislation is focused on the sport's elite players and the few coaches, such as Tom Insell of the Tennessee Flight, who will recruit from outside the team's immediate region. Others also say USA Basketball's expansion to a U16 team eliminates the best underclassmen from club competition anyway.

Some proponents argue that 2009-94 would preemptively eliminate future challenges in the girls' game that already have been faced by the boys' side, which they estimate is 15 years ahead in political and financial structure.

Opponents, such as Flynn, who owns Blue Star Basketball and operates the Philadelphia Belles club program, told ESPN HoopGurlz that he and others would move to litigation if the measure is adopted.

"A handful of coaches are willing to change the lives of 200,000 or more girls for a dozen players," Flynn said. "You gotta be joking."

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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. Hansen can be reached at chris.hansen@espn3.com.