Although there’s been a rule on the books since 2007, the NCAA sent down a new initiative recently banning media from future camps at universities. According to them, they are simply “closing a loophole” for a rule that’s been there for a few years.
Recently, I spent two days in Knoxville covering Tennessee’s one day camps in which every major recruiting service had staff attend along with local members of the media. It was a great atmosphere for the young kids to showcase their skills.
So today, when I saw this update, the first thought that came to my mind was how incredibly bad of a rule this is. The NCAA has many trivial rules that make no sense to most and are almost totalitarian in nature, but this one is specifically baffling.
After thinking about this, I went in search for what the NCAA actually stands for in its own words, trying to find justification for this rule. I went to NCAA.org and pulled up the NCAA’s “3-5 Year Strategic Plan”. Here are two points I found very interesting:
1. Page 6 – 2.1: “Increase the application of fair, safe and flexible regulations that favor student-athletes.”
2. Page 6 – 2.2: “Increase the opportunities for women and minorities to participate in intercollegiate athletics at all levels.”
Why do these stand out to me? Because the NCAA, with these goals, is promoting itself as an organization that wants to provide young men and women of all backgrounds the opportunity to take part in intercollegiate athletics.
When schools like Tennessee, LSU and so on have camps, it certainly allows the coaches of that school an opportunity to evaluate the prospects, but it also gives recruiting analysts and media the chance to evaluate and report on prospects as well.
The NCAA has a rule in place that does not allow coaches to comment on unsigned recruits, so if a recruit has a great camp and the media isn’t allowed, no one will know it. There is no end to how bad the results of this will be.
There are thousands of young men and women who play sports in places where their high school coaches and administrators do little to nothing to help them contact colleges or get their names out there. High school kids are also not allowed to hire agents to start a marketing program on their behalf.
Also, there are many young people who come from low income families or just downright poverty. These families can’t afford to make highlight tapes and send them out, and most of the time live in an economically challenged community where the school doesn’t have the resources to do it for them.
So, a big part of the benefit of having media at camps is so the young men or women who may not have been known prior to the camp get valuable exposure. Whether the NCAA wants to recognize it or not, the fact is that many FBS and lower level schools use recruiting services like Rivals.com to assist them in locating prospects in an effort to cut costs.
There is no better place for services to evaluate kids than a college camp, where the kids are under professional instruction, going up against the best competition. If a player can show up well at one of these camps and the media is allowed to report a first hand account, this helps increase that prospects exposure by a great deal.
If you take the media out of camps, you are lessening the chances of young people to gain exposure and in turn, possibly receive a scholarship. This would be in direct contrast to your “goal” of creating regulations that favor student-athletes.
This rule will adversely affect people from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds who can’t afford to make highlight tapes. People who scrape together every penny just to attend camps and get an opportunity will have their chances greatly dwindled if the only people who get to hear about them or see them are the coaches they are in front of.
This will also impact athletes in certain states greater than others. In states like Florida and Texas, high school football is mainstream with games in almost every town being shown on every single Friday night, and some games getting shown on ESPN nationally.
There are other states, however, like Tennessee and Kansas, where getting exposure isn’t near as easy for kids. Their games are not on TV, they don’t have national recruiting services holding camps and their local media doesn’t cover their team closely. Having media at camps at those state schools is an invaluable resource for those young athletes.
This rule goes against everything the NCAA lines out as “goals” on their very own website. This rule is not in the favor of student athletes, because it will decrease the number of opportunities a prospect has to be seen and talked about.
This rule is blatantly discriminatory against people from low income backgrounds who can’t afford to do their own highlights and send them out. According to 2005 U.S. Census Bureau Press Release, Hispanic median income trailed non-Hispanic white households by approximately $14,000 and African-American households trailed by $18,000. The poverty rate for African-American households was three times that of the white households.
Those are the facts. This rule will unfairly harm minorities rather than accomplish the NCAA’s “goal” of increasing opportunities. It may not be a pretty picture, but it’s the real one.
Bottom line, this is a bad rule. It only hurts kids. It will limit their exposure, opportunities, and will place those that are already at a disadvantage further in the hole. Fans, high school coaches, college coaches, administrators and everyone who wants to see these young people get the best opportunities they can should bombard the NCAA with their thoughts on how bad of a rule this is. Don’t like my reasons? I’m sure that there are plenty of others you can find to use.
We need to give our young people the best chance to succeed we can, and this is exactly the opposite.