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NCAA's ban on satellite camps hurts the very players they claim to protect

Apr 15, 2016

Mens sana in corpore sano.

Sound mind in sound body.

It’s a simple philosophy, which states that exercise is good for your brain. What was revolutionary a century ago is common sense to us. It’s also the best reason to support school sports, something Americans believe in more than any other culture.

In the late 1800s, when the Wolverines were just getting started, Michigan president James B. Angell hated big-time sports, and just about everything that went with it: the coaches, the money, the crowds. But the one argument Angell did believe in was sound mind, sound body. On that basis, he allowed the Wolverines to play.

It’s still a good reason, of course, so good we expanded it to include women, thanks to Title IX.

True, the massive money football and basketball now generate can easily eclipse the original motives for college sports, but for the vast majority of college athletes, that’s why you play. A close second is the chance to go to college, something a lot of these athletes wouldn’t have if not for sports.

unless you're a "blue-chip" recruit... you won't be seen by the mid-level programs that might want you...

But unless you’re a “blue-chip” recruit, being scouted by the nation’s top college programs, you won’t be seen by the mid-level programs that might want you, and those programs can’t afford to find you, either.

This is where the so-called “satellite camps” come in.

Several top programs have run camps around the country to bring all the region’s players and coaches together, creating a large-scale match-making service. Make no mistake, the teams that do this – most notably Ohio State in Columbus, and Michigan, all over the country – are trying to get the best players to their programs, much the way admissions departments have been sending their people to high schools across the nation for decades.

But the top programs get the top players anyway. The people who really benefit from the camps are the coaches at Toledo and Hillsdale, and the players they’re recruiting, who don’t have the time or money go visit camps at six different schools.

These camps allow dozens of programs to see hundreds of players in a single day.

Problem solved.

One of the leading camps, literally called, “Sound Mind, Sound Body,” started in Detroit 12 years ago.

It hosted hundreds of mostly underprivileged high school players, who learned life skills they’ll need in the classroom and beyond, received a free pair of cleats, and worked out for a dozen-plus college coaches, from Grand Valley State to Kent State.

In other words, when they say "Sound Mind, Sound Body," they actually mean it.

This summer the camp was expected to appear in six cities, but when Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh took his show on the road last year, the coaches down South didn’t take too kindly to it.

They didn't dare give a reason.

The Southeastern Conference has won eight of the last 10 national titles, and they don’t need any carpetbagger from the North plucking their top players – even if that means limiting the players’ choices. So they rallied the morally-challenged NCAA to ban satellite camps, because of – well, just because.

They didn’t dare give a reason.

This will affect Harbaugh, but not that much.

The main hit will be taken by the underprivileged, mid-level players -- the very people the NCAA claims to be defending, protecting and promoting.

Thus, literally overnight, the NCAA disbanded "Sound Mind, Sound Body," which is not only the name of the do-gooder camp, but the pillar on which the NCAA was built back in 1905. 

Sound mind, sound body?

Good idea. The NCAA should try it.