A rising issue within the Southeastern Conference that’s making some noise down at the spring meetings in Destin, Fla., is the topic of "satellite camps."
Here are the basics: NCAA rules prohibit coaches from running camps more than 50 miles from their respective campuses.
So what we’re left with now is a bunch of SEC coaches fired up over Penn State coach James Franklin using everything in his power to spread the Nittany Lion brand and get players to State College.
Franklin, an aggressive guy hellbent on recruiting and bringing his SEC approach from Vanderbilt to Penn State, and his staff are scheduled to participate — but, remember, not "run" — camps this summer at Georgia State (Atlanta) and Stetson (Deland, Fla.).
This conveniently allows Penn State coaches to work in rich SEC recruiting territories and get individual access to top recruits they normally wouldn’t have otherwise. Franklin told reporters in May:
This has many SEC coaches upset, because they don’t have the same flexibility. Per their conference’s rules, SEC coaches can’t participate at satellite camps in Ohio, Texas, California or other hotbeds for talent that exist beyond the 50-mile radius from their campuses.
Notre Dame is also planning to dip into SEC territory via satellite camps.
According to a 247Sports report, the Irish are working with Georgia State to set up a camp for next summer.
The satellite issue reaches beyond the SEC, and it’s not just Penn State and Notre Dame that are exploiting the rule loophole.
Oklahoma State will coach at camps across Texas this summer, as Yahoo Sports wrote last August. New Mexico will also make its presence known in Texas, and Iowa State will be visiting the Chicago area.
Of course, none of these schools is in the "wrong." They’re not breaking any rules that apply to them, and it’s not their issue if the SEC’s rulebook doesn’t allow its members similar flexibility. Franklin probably speaks for them all when he told reporters:
So what can the SEC do? It has two obvious options.
Commissioner Mike Slive could approach the NCAA and ask the Indianapolis office to do something about the loophole, which, given the pace at which NCAA legislation crosses desks, could take frustratingly long.
Or, the SEC could amend its own rules and allow its coaches the same opportunities. If Slive did that, by the weekend Nick Saban would be particpating in a camp in Los Angeles and Les Miles would be in Dallas.
"We all would if we could," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops told media in Destin about whether SEC coaches would hit the road and join these satellite camps. Of course. Who wouldn’t? For a league as competitively dominant as the SEC, it’s a bit surprising that its own rules are restricting such activity in the first place.