MAC commish seeking limits with football satellite camps

Published 2:20 am Friday, August 19, 2016

DETROIT (AP) — Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck would love to be able to go toe to toe with Jim Harbaugh, bouncing around to all sorts of satellite camps in the offseason.

“If we had the budget, I would have been right next to him. We would have been competing, how many numbers we could get,” Fleck said.

Fleck and other coaches in the Mid-American Conference can certainly benefit from satellite camps, but the issue remains a complicated one. On Thursday, MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher called for some limits on when and where the camps can be held.

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“We are in favor of retaining satellite camps, but there need to be some walls built around it in terms of length of days you can have it, number of times you’re out, things like that,” Steinbrecher said at the MAC’s annual media day at Detroit’s Ford Field.

Steinbrecher suggested a 15-day window to hold the camps — and that only coaches with recruiting responsibility and graduate assistants work at them. He also said he’d advocate restricting the sites of the camps to four-year colleges.

“You should not be permitted to go to a high school, academy or some other third party as a location to hold such camps,” he said.

Steinbrecher said participation by coaches at satellite camps should count as evaluation days under the recruiting calendar.

Satellite camps have become a big issue over the past year. Harbaugh has been at the center of that debate, with the Michigan coach defending the camps. The Southeastern Conference wanted them banned — some coaches have argued that they’re just a way for programs to recruit.

The Division I Council approved a proposal requiring Football Bowl Subdivision schools to hold camps at or near home, but the Division I Board of Directors rescinded that ban in early May. The MAC had voted against the ban.

“I think that you want to go ahead and keep satellite camps in some form, but you need to limit it, and I’m not talking about limiting student-athlete opportunity,” Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said.

“You have to limit that time, because you know what’s not going on? Assistant coaches aren’t on our campuses dealing with our players.”

Fleck, whose team is picked to win the MAC this year in the preseason media poll, said WMU does find satellite camps useful, but he agrees with the commissioner that they need to be limited somehow.

He did express admiration for the way Harbaugh approaches them.

“One thing Harbaugh does that I respect is that he’s constantly finding ways to get the brand out there, but he’s so genuine of why he’s doing it. You watch him, he’s coaching every camp,” Fleck said. “He’s not standing there … like a CEO and just saying, ‘I’m here.”’

Satellite camps aren’t the only prospect-related issue facing college football. Steinbrecher said the league’s coaches favor the addition of an early signing period for football, and he’d like football prospects to be able to make official visits after their junior year of high school, instead of having to wait until the fall of senior year.

“This is much more in line with the typical high school student, who will make campus visits the summer before their senior year,” Steinbrecher said. “Let’s provide our prospects with the opportunity to visit where they want during the summer.”

Steinbrecher also said the MAC’s council of athletic directors is considering proposals from the student-athlete advisory committee aimed at managing time demands on athletes.


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