We have seen a lot about satellite camps lately and whether or not it is right for coaches from the Big Ten to be working at football camps in the south. ACC and SEC coaches are obviously not very happy about it, and the term “loophole” has been thrown around plenty. Alabama’s Nick Saban calls it ridiculous. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney says it is a loophole that needs to be addressed. What is it exactly that has some suggesting coaches like James Franklin and Jim Harbaugh are taking advantage of a loophole? Let’s dive into the often confusing world of NCAA bylaws in search of the popular loophole and determine if there really is a loophole in play.
Here is the language of the key NCAA bylaws directly from the NCAA Division 1 Manual;
184.108.40.206.3 Football. [FBS/FCS] In bowl subdivision football, an institution’s football camp or clinic may be conducted only during two periods of 15 consecutive days in the months of June and July or any calendar week (Sunday through Saturday) that includes days of those months (e.g., May 28-June 3). The dates of the two 15-day periods must be on file in the office of the athletics director. In championship subdivision football, an institution’s camp or clinic may be conducted only during the months of June, July and August or any calendar week (Sunday through Saturday) that includes days of those months (e.g., May 28-June 3). [D] (Revised: 4/28/05 effective 8/1/05, 1/9/06 effective 8/1/06, 1/8/07, 1/16/10, 4/29/10)
So far, nothing too controversial. We have our guidelines for the schedule limitations in which a school may hold an organized football camp. No real controversy here. As it pertains to the location of the camps a school may hold, here is the bylaw establishing the limits for basketball and football;
220.127.116.11 Location Restriction—Basketball and Football. In basketball, an institution’s camp or clinic shall be conducted on the institution’s campus or within a 100-mile radius of the institution’s campus. In football, an institution’s camp or clinic shall be conducted on the institution’s campus, within the state in which the institution is located or, if outside the state, within a 50-mile radius of the institution’s campus. (Revised: 4/29/10; for men’s basketball camps, a contract signed before 9/17/08 may be honored; for women’s basketball camps, a contract signed before 9/16/09 may be honored)
Here we start to enter the sketchy areas revolving around this topic. The boundaries are firmly established for football camps. Stay within your own state or stay within 50 miles of your university if traveling out-of-state. For example, that allows Temple to work camps in New Jersey and Delaware, but Penn State would be locked to Pennsylvania due to the geographic locations of each campus. We are starting to get there, but we need to read one more NCAA bylaw to really get to the most important part of the debate.
Finally, this bylaw specifically written for FBS coaches presents the loophole critics in the satellite camp issue may be most concerned with addressing;
18.104.22.168.3 Noninstitutional, Privately Owned Camps/Clinics—Bowl Subdivision Football. [FBS] In bowl subdivision football, an institution’s coach or noncoaching staff member with responsibilities specific to football may be employed (either on a salaried or volunteer basis) in any capacity (e.g., counselor, guest lecturer, consultant) in a noninstitutional, privately owned camp or clinic at any location, provided the camp or clinic is operated in accordance with restrictions applicable to an institutional camp or clinic (e.g., open to any and all entrants, no free or reduced admission to or employment of athletics award winners). However, employment in such a camp or clinic is limited to two periods of 15 consecutive days in the months of June and July or any calendar week (Sunday through Saturday) that includes days of those months (e.g., May 28-June 3). The dates of the two 15-day periods must be on file in the office of the athletics director. [D] (Adopted: 1/16/10)
The key term is “noninstitutional.” Does this mean any institution not connected to the coach, or does it mean any camp not run by an NCAA institution? If any one term opens the door for the allowance of a coach from the Big Ten to work a camp in California or Texas or Florida, this is probably it. Everything else in the bylaw suggests a coach may work at any camp, anywhere in the country. We just need a bit more clarity on the term “noninstitutional.” Perhaps this is up for interpretation and point-of-view. Either way, it should be clarified one way or the other. This may be the only loophole in the language of the NCAA bylaws on this subject.
The NCAA has made an effort to attempt to clean up the rule book and make things more understandable, but it is a continued work in progress. Should there be uniformity on the rule regarding coaches working at satellite camps? Absolutely, but right now Big Ten coaches are playing by the same NCAA rules and bylaws put in place for coaches in the ACC and SEC. Unfortunately for those coaches in the south, their own conference rules are getting in the way. It is not the NCAA that is causing a problem for coaches in the ACC or SEC. It is the ACC and SEC that have handcuffed their own coaches with regard to working camps.