Sound Mind Sound Body's Blackwell: 'NCAA got it right'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
“It is in no way in the best interest of the kids, that’s my takeaway,” Curtis Blackwell said of the NCAA ban on satellite camps.

Curtis Blackwell is the director of college advancement and performance for football at Michigan State, but he also is the co-founder of the Detroit-based Sound Mind Sound Body Academy, and was overjoyed by the NCAA Board of Governors decision to allow satellite camps.

The Sound Mind Sound Body (SMSB) Academy is entering its 12th year and is about teaching young football players important life lessons while allowing them exposure to Division I coaches.

“This is a victory for high school student athletes and parents and high school coaches across the country,” Blackwell told The Detroit News on Thursday shortly after the NCAA indicated it is rescinding the NCAA Council’s vote from April 8. “Today, they were the biggest winners. This was the Super Bowl of high school football today. I’m happy for all the young people.

“The NCAA got it right. That’s the biggest thing — the Division I Board of Directors got it right. This could have been final on April 8, but with the structure and the review period, they were able to review all the information and got it right and had the courage to stand up and do the right thing. That’s all you can ask for.”

According to an NCAA release Thursday afternoon, the Board’s decision means football coaches “may be employed at any camp that follows Division I camps and clinics rules.”

The academy will be held June 9-10 at Wayne State’s facilities. Among the coaches who have participated as speakers at SMSB the last few years, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

SMSB has expanded this summer to hold camps in Atlanta, Houston, Tampa, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.  Blackwell he expects more coaches to attend Michigan State’s camps as well as the SMSB camps now that the SEC and ACC have relaxed their rules on allowing coaches to work camps.

Sound Mind Sound Body is expecting 20-30 Division I head coaches at each of its six  camps this summer. For the two-day camp in Detroit, every Big Ten school will be represented with the exception of Wisconsin and Northwestern, which will have their own camps at the same time.

In addition, LSU coach Les Miles already has committed to four of the six camps, including Detroit. Notre Dame will be represented, and head coach Brian Kelly is working to change a schedule conflict so he can attend, and Oregon is expected to send coaches.

Among some of the other head coaches committed, Arizona's Rich Rodriguez will head to the Los Angeles SMSB camp, while Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and Texas coach Charlie Strong will be in Houston.Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen will attend the Atlanta camp, Miami coach Mark Richt will be in Tampa and UCLA coach Jim Mora will be in Los Angeles.

After the Council’s vote on April 8, several local players at Michigan and Michigan State who had participated in the SMSB in Detroit, took to social media to voice their displeasure with the decision and added the hashtag “#ChangeNCAA” to their tweets.

NCAA backtracks on satellite camp ban

Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis, who played at Cass Tech, responded via Twitter on Thursday: “#Thankyouncaaforhearingourvoice”.

For Blackwell, now a consultant for SMSB, seeing the response from student-athletes was an added bonus.

“I think the biggest thing that came out of this, you saw that young people express themselves,” Blackwell said. “So many times we critique them for not necessarily having the best etiquette on certain platforms. It was good to see young people across the country passionate about something other than the silly things posted day to day on social media.

“This is the first time I can recall so many people affected who spoke out. That’s the biggest takeaway, that people are concerned and advocated for doing what’s right. Now there’s more awareness what’s going on and maybe now there’s more conversation and we can really figure this out. I don’t believe college coaches wanted to take away opportunities.

"We just didn’t a chance to think it all the way through and come up with the best win-win situation. It wasn’t that someone intended to hurt people. What unexpectedly happened, everyone spoke out, which I’ve never seen before.”

For Blackwell, SMSB and satellite camps have always been about helping under-the-radar players get an opportunity to be seen by college coaches.

“As co-founder of Sound Mind Sound Body, when I came back home to the city of Detroit it was to help make opportunities for young people in the city like I had,” he said. “When I started working with our team and started Sound Mind Sound Body we wanted to improve lives across our community in Detroit and in the state of Michigan.

“You knew Sound Mind Sound Body was big but when you heard the young people express themselves (on Twitter). You knew something you did resonated, that they wanted to speak out about it. This is a city of Detroit thing, a state of Michigan thing, a Midwest thing. We were the winner today. This is what you live for, to make a difference in your community. For the high school coaches in Detroit, our sponsors, Adidas, supporters of the program, we must have done something correct.”

Twitter: @chengelis