The consensus opinion among college basketball head coaches across the country is unlike most teachers. They simply don’t want the summer off.
Most of the coaches have already publicly voiced their concerns over a 2012 proposal that would eliminate July as a part of the acceptable recruiting calendar.
During this pivotal evaluation time, coaches travel to various summer camps, clinics and AAU tournaments over two 10-day stretches of scouting trips.
“It’s atrocious,’’ St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt said. “It’s going to make the playing field even more lopsided. 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.’’
ESPN.com reported last week the Conference Commissioners Association voted unanimously 31-0 in September to recommend the abolition of summer recruiting. The recommendation has moved on to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.
“I don’t know how this stuff happens,’’ Xavier head coach Chris Mack said last week during the Atlantic 10 Conference media day. “We, as coaches, go about our business recruiting, preparing for practicing and all of a sudden it’s 31-0 to eliminate recruiting?’ In my mind they’re trying to get rid of AAU basketball but kids will keep playing whether we’re watching or not.”’
Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade immediately disputed the report of how the vote results occurred during her conference’s media day.
“It was not a unanimous vote,” McGlade said. “There was a majority vote that asked that a recommendation go to the (NCAA) Board of Directors and request to eliminate summer recruiting for the sport of men’s basketball.”
The day after the vote was taken among the commissioners, the National Association of Basketball Coaches led by president and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo sent an e-mail explaining why their group is strongly against the motion. In the e-mail message Izzo explained schools “would be forced to make decisions on what prospects to invite for official visits in the fall and whom to offer athletic scholarships blindly.”
Several coaches at the Southeastern Conference Media Day voiced displeasure over the possible removal of that evaluation time with Kentucky head coach John Calipari being the lone member in favor of the move.
“How about I spend time with my players, and how about this novice idea, with my family?" Calipari said. "How about we do what football does and we take a month off? How about we do what football does and we go one recruiting session where the head coach can't leave campus?”
Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury suggested that if the NCAA is prepared to take away July from Division 1 coaches than the issue of bringing back April as an acceptable evaluation period.
“When are we as head coaches supposed to go see these players play,” Stansbury said. “Basically it puts us back on the season. Well, I don’t think there’s any head coaches that want to be away from their team during the season.”
A year ago, college coaches agreed to turn April into a dead period.
Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe told the Associated Press he had been spearheading the movement as the chairman of the FBS group in the CCA.
“The 11 commissioners in that group voted unanimously to do away with it,” Beebe said to AP. “What we did was vote to put legislation into the system to eliminate summer recruiting along with exploring how we might do the recruiting calendar differently.”
The men's basketball focus group has been looking for improvements as well as trying to eliminate the possibility for schools to commit violations during the period because of agent contact with players or impermissible benefits at these tournaments.
“I think it’s unfair too because there’s good and bad in everything,” Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. “There’s a lot of AAU people that I have a tremendous amount of respect for that do a lot of great things for kids. If you were to watch me several years ago when I was in high school, you may not have been impressed – several of them weren’t as it was.”
The argument by the mid to low major schools in Division 1 is the cost effectiveness of traveling to one location to see hundreds of players levels the playing field for them to compete with the Bowl Championship Series schools.
“For me, I have the ability because the University of Arkansas has a plane to go and get into two or three high schools a day,” Pelphrey said. “When I was at South Alabama, I did not have that opportunity. So with this policy we’re spending more money and spending less time which leads to less of an evaluation.”
Without big-time level football programs to help distribute the potential cost increase of recruiting, some of the mid-level conference schools feel they may be impacted immediately to recruit players in a different time zone.
“The way the rules are written now, college coaches aren't able to attend spring traveling team events and have not since 2009,” ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep said. “You know why it’s hard for college coaches to see players in the spring? Because the kids are playing in AAU events, which coaches can't attend.”
The Division I men’s basketball board of directors have planned to conduct a meeting tomorrow in which a discussion will take place whether to vote on this issue and place it in the already thick NCAA rulebook.
“We got to take a hard look at our game and ask ‘why is it not getting better?,” Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. “If they eliminate July recruiting, my first question would be what are they going to replace it with? I think that it’s certainly something we have to look at because we have some problems in our game.”