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NCAA shuts down satellite football camps

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s next satellite camping trip through the South has been cancelled.

The NCAA shut down so-called satellite football camps Friday after the Big Ten turned out to be the only Power Five conference in favor of them.

The Division I Council approved a proposal from the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference requiring Bowl Subdivision schools “to conduct camps and clinics at their school’s facilities or at facilities regularly used for practice or competition,” the NCAA said. “Additionally, FBS coaches and non-coaching staff members with responsibilities specific to football may be employed only at their school’s camps or clinics.”

The change was effective immediately. Harbaugh, whose sweeping tour of the South last year heightened the debate about satellite camps, already had stops lined up this year in Florida and Alabama.

Division I Council chairman Jim Phillips, the athletic director at Northwestern, said the Big 12 and the Pac-12 also voted for the ACC and SEC proposal. From the Group of Five conferences, the Mid-American Conference, Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference voted with the Big Ten. Power Five votes count for two, so the final tally was 10-5 in favor of banning satellite camps.

The Big Ten also supported keeping the satellite camp issue as part of a comprehensive look at football that the sports’ NCAA oversight committee plans to undertake this year. Last year the Big Ten wanted to bring several proposals before the council, including an early signing period, initial eligibility, roster and coaching staff sizes and in-season practice time, but the 10 FBS conferences agreed instead to a broad-based review.

“What occurred was that the SEC and the ACC in February or so felt that the satellite camp issue was such a critical issue that it should go in front of the council and be taken out of the comprehensive package and the holistic review,” Phillips said. “From a Big Ten perspective, I think we’re disappointed. We felt like this should be part of all the other legislative items that we have tabled and that we haven’t brought forward to the council.”

The SEC and ACC already ban their coaches from working at football camps away from their campuses. The Big Ten and other conferences do not. Harbaugh, Penn State coach James Franklin and others have been trying to make recruiting inroads in the South by guest coaching at camps held at other colleges and high schools.

Earlier this week, new Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said satellite camps are good for prospective college athletes.

“The benefit is to the kids to get the exposure to great coaching and coaches from around the country,” Manuel told The Associated Press before the ruling. “It also gives different coaches from around the country an exposure to kids in those regions. As opposed to saying, well, if you’re interested in coach Harbaugh having to look at you, you have to get on a plane, sign up for camp, pay for overnight hotel or pay for an overnight camp, in order to participate and get an opportunity to have coach Harbaugh or any of our coaches interact with you.”

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was the most vocal critic of what he called “recruiting camps,” but said his league was prepared to lift its restrictions unless the NCAA stepped in. The SEC is in the most fertile football recruiting territory in the country, so its coaches don’t necessarily need to venture outside the league’s footprint for talent. If anything, permitting satellite camps might have led to SEC coaches encroaching on each other’s turf.

The bickering over satellite camps started in 2014, when Franklin and his staff worked at camps held in Florida and Georgia. Ohio State jumped on board, sending coaches to Florida Atlantic.

“This decision, unfortunately, will result in student-athletes having fewer opportunities to familiarize themselves with their college choices,” Franklin said in a statement. “We have seen, though, that our coaching staff will use whatever NCAA framework exists to build quality relationships and bring outstanding student-athletes from across the nation to Penn State.”

Harbaugh took satellite camps to another level.

“I don’t see the negative to that,” Manuel said. “Yes, the coaches would spend more time or the assistant coaches would spend more time (traveling). But in many cases they’re doing camps on their own campuses at different times of the year anyway.”

NOTES: The Division I Council approved a proposal to clarify academic integrity rules and make clearer when the NCAA should be involved with academic misconduct involving athletes. … The council tabled a proposal that would allow NCAA championship events to be held in states that permit gambling on college sports and deregulated electronic communication with prospective athletes in football, cross country, track and field and swimming and diving.

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