Bonamego on satellite camp ban: ‘The NCAA has pretty much used a shotgun instead of a fly-swatter’
Jim Harbaugh is not the only college football coach in Michigan upset with the NCAA’s recent ban on satellite camps.
Central Michigan Head Coach John Bonamego said the camp ban — which limits schools to recruiting at summer camps to an institution’s own on-campus facilities — is an overreaction and will hurt smaller schools like CMU the most.
Often, coaches from smaller universities would be invited to camps hosted by larger teams to recruit. Universities also host their own camps in different areas to reach players in a different region.
“A lot of times, kids think they’re going to a camp because they maybe want to be recruited by Michigan or Michigan State or Ohio State, but they can’t take them all,” Bonamego said. “By getting exposure to other schools, it opens up opportunities for them.”
CMU has seven camps scheduled in Mount Pleasant this summer. CMU has previously hosted camps in Paw Paw, among other places. Bonamego said the camp helped CMU recruit players from the west side of the state and Chicago.
Bonamego said he might not have ended up at CMU if it weren’t for an outside camp he attended in high school.
“I remember going to Michigan camp myself,” he said. “That’s where I learned about Central Michigan. I met Denny LaFleur at the Michigan camp going into my junior year.”
The Mid-American Conference was one of four conferences to vote against the ban. MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said the rule change hurts recruits the most.
“I don’t think people really thought through what it meant to the prospects and the kids who attend those camps, and that’s disappointing,” he said. “It was a defensive mechanism by a number of schools. That doesn’t seem consistent with the values that we’re about.”
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) were the biggest supporters of the ban.
Previously, the NCAA disallowed schools from hosting camps outside a 50-mile radius of campus, but did not restrict coaches from being guests at camps outside the radius. The SEC and ACC have rules prohibiting schools from attending camps outside the 50-mile radius in any form.
“What’s occurred with this rule is, someone’s built a wall geographically,” Steinbrecher said. “(They’re saying) ‘We want to wall you off and make it tougher for you to see any of the kids down here.’”
The ban was streamlined through to be addressed immediately, instead of being part of the larger package of issues the NCAA will study and discuss in the coming months. The move is largely in response to Harbaugh’s seven-state, nine-camp tour last summer, which infringed on the traditional recruiting territory for the SEC and ACC.
While the ban is effective immediately, Steinbrecher said the Board of Directors does not have to sign off on the change when they vote April 28.
“We’ll continue to look for ways to address this,” he said. “We’re not alone with this, I think we’ve got some allies. I think there are truly some folks involved in the voting process that didn’t understand what they were voting on and what the ramifications of it were.”