Coaches upset about ban possibility

Updated: October 21, 2010, 9:36 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- College basketball coaches aren't ready to pack in their summer recruiting road trips.

They're upset over a proposal that would eliminate July men's basketball recruiting beginning in 2012. The Conference Commissioners Association recently voted 31-0 to recommend the abolition of summer recruiting.

Coaches are allowed to evaluate recruits for two 10-day periods in July, traversing the country for events in Akron, Ohio; Cleveland; Cincinnati; Indianapolis; north of Dallas; Augusta, S.C.; Orlando, Fla.; Las Vegas; and Los Angeles, among many others. The NCAA's men's basketball focus group has been monitoring summer recruiting, looking for improvements as well as trying to eliminate violations during the period.

The Division I board will meet Oct. 28 and has a number of options: accept the recommendation and implement it immediately or delay the implementation; introduce new legislation and send it through the normal governance structure; direct a study of options; or do not act on the recommendation, a source told ESPN.com Wednesday.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said he had been spearheading the move to eliminate July recruiting as chairman of the FBS group in the CCA.

"The 11 commissioners in that group voted unanimously to do away with it," Beebe said. "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."

Beebe said he was not in favor of amending or cutting back on July recruiting.

"My position, and the majority, is to get out completely," he said. "We'll have to be convinced why it should be different than that."

Although five Big 12 coaches said Thursday they opposed eliminating the summer recruiting, Beebe said he did not necessarily think he would be at odds with most coaches.

"Maybe," he said. "I've also had a number of coaches say they don't like it, they want to get out now."

But the National Association of Basketball Coaches is emphatically against the proposal. Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli, an NABC board member, cautions that it's too early to panic because the rule may not even be implemented.

"Coaches will clearly be heard on this," he said Thursday.

They've already started to make their opinions known.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino called the possibility of the July evaluation period being pulled "the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of since I've been a coach."

Pitino called the period vital to gathering information on dozens of players in one setting rather than having to skip across the country to evaluate them individually. He pointed to potential higher travel costs as a major problem and suggested if the NCAA was so concerned it could perhaps hold regional camps featuring the top prep players instead.

"If they want to do something good with all the money they make off NCAA basketball, let the NCAA run the camps," he said.

Most coaches were surprised by the recommendation. While many said tweaks or other adjustments to the summer period rules were needed, there was no reason to wipe it completely off the calendar.

"You can't do that," Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. "You can, but the problem is you're recruiting kids for four years and will only see them during the season."

Gregory was among the coaches blindsided by the news and didn't even hear about it until he received an e-mail from NABC president and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. In the e-mail, obtained by ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz, Izzo listed a four bullet-point response to why the group rejects the proposal.

Izzo, NABC executive Jim Haney and deputy executive director Reggie Minton wrote:

• College coaches would be forced to make decisions on what prospects to invite for official visits in the fall and whom to offer athletic scholarships blindly.

• Schools do not have the budgets or time to support making countless individual trips to see individual prospects.

• The concept of just moving evaluations into the academic year is flawed.

• The elimination of the July evaluation period is not going to eliminate third parties including agents, advisers and runners. It will empower these people to have greater influence with the prospect.

Duquesne coach Ron Everhart suggested the move was an attempt at lessening the heavy influence of AAU camps, agents and other outside influences. Kansas coach Bill Self called it a "knee-jerk reaction" to solving the ills of the game.

Xavier coach Chris Mack said he supports the July schedule getting sliced as long as an additional weekend was added in the spring.

On a similar front with Mack, Kentucky coach John Calipari favored the move.

"Do the stuff in April and September," he said. "If you need to see them against other players, go watch them in high school. In the old days, that's what they did. How'd they figure out who was good?"

Sun Belt Conference commissioner Wright Waters is much like Beebe. He said extra time in the spring is not an option. He wants summer recruiting to hit the road for good and has no desire to add other dates.

"It seems that for the last 20 years or more, we've just kind of nickeled and dimed legislation about recruiting, and maybe this needs to be the beginning of the stepping back and looking at what we're doing in recruiting and is it relevant," he said. "Most of our recruiting rules have their origin in the early '70s. Since that time, we've kind of patchworked everything on them."

Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade, however, said the conference has sent a letter to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and NCAA President Mark Emmert supporting summer recruiting.

"If there are challenges, then let's fix the challenges," she said. "Let's not just eliminate it. I think there's a fair number of conference commissioners that are wanting to see it studied, not eliminated."

McGlade said the Division I board will meet Oct. 28.

Losing July would be a blow to the mid-majors and small schools because the elite programs usually already have a full stock of prospects or are simply focusing on the handful of standout stars. The other schools use the month to find the overlooked gems and late bloomers that a Duke, North Carolina or Villanova have already passed over.

"The other 90 percent of the college basketball population needs to see kids multiple times," Charlotte coach Alan Major said.

Martelli said it could be a while before a final decision is made.

"We're just at the beginning of the process," he said. "I don't know how it can't be a while."

Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE