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Bielema: Camp ban just a ‘soap box’ opportunity for foes

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Rich Rodriguez

In today’s episode of “As the Satellite Camp World Turns,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez reveals himself as a camp supporter, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema says he had several camps planned but said a few people are now on a soap box, a smaller school that planned to host several camps is shocked by the decision, and a Big 12 athletic director said “the conferences have spoken.”

Now that’s drama.

While we await the next step Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and athletic director Warde Manuel take in an effort to restore the satellite camps that were voted down on April 8 by the NCAA Council, the door seems to have opened a smidgen. According to a Monday report, Oliver Luck, the NCAA’s executive vice president of regulatory affairs, indicated he expects the NCAA to revisit the recent rule to ban satellite camps.

There has been widespread reaction nationally to the ban, and the NCAA Board of Governors will meet on April 28. Decisions made by the Council are not final until the board meets.

Among the latest to support satellite camps is Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, the former head coach at Michigan.

“I don’t know how that rule passed so quickly,” Rodriguez told reporters, according to Tucson.com. “I understand if we table it and look at it for a year, but to table it because a few SEC or ACC schools don’t want to have it is not fair to a lot of coaches, a lot of programs, and more importantly to the student-athletes.”

Rodriguez and his staff were planning camps in-state, and also in California and Hawaii, as they have in recent years.

“It’s not as if it’s the end of the world for us,” Rodriguez said. “But I think it’s been overwhelmingly positive at helping student-athletes that would maybe not get a look and now they’d get an opportunity to show themselves and get a scholarship.

“If it’s been overwhelmingly more good than bad, they shouldn’t change the rules. A few squeaky wheels got the thing changed that quickly? I think it’s silly and disingenuous.”

Bret Bielema

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema appeared on “The Paul Finebaum Show” and said he had camps planned at Rutgers, Florida Atlantic, in Houston, Chicago and Michigan, and also had an exclusive deal for a camp at Cowboys Stadium.

“We were going to jump in with both feet,” Bielema said. “We were sitting ready to roll. We play by the rules as they are.”

He explained that several years ago he started seeing flyers for Big 12 camps and they were brought to the SEC meetings for the coaches to discuss. He said Penn State coach James Franklin, then at Vanderbilt, saw the flyers and took the concept to the Big Ten, which allows coaches to work at camps.

Bielema was asked if banning the camps shuts down opportunities for high school players.

“No,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to get on the soap box for a couple people who feel good about doing it.”

Bobby Wilder

Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder had plans for three camps this summer with Michigan, Maryland and Penn State. He told the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., in a story Tuesday, that hundreds had pre-registered.

“This just came out of the blue,” Wilder told the paper of the vote to ban camps. “I was shocked.”

Wilder and ODU hosted a Penn State camp last June with 43 colleges represented and 1,000 high school players. He said that’s four times the turnout for an ODU-only camp.

“Every kid at the camp had an opportunity to audition for somebody,” Wilder told the paper.

He is not letting things go quietly, however. He is working on appeal options with Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association.

Wilder echoed comments made by Harbaugh, who has been openly critical of coaches complaining about the added workload and time demands.

“You can only do 15 days in June and 15 days in July of camps,” he told the paper. “That’s four weeks we can be on vacation in the summer. Not to mention the 30 days we can’t recruit around Christmas.

“I am so tired of coaches complaining about quality of life when 95 percent of Americans will never touch the money or vacation time we get. Shame on us.”

West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons told WVSports.com he doesn’t envision a change in the vote.

NCAA to revisit ban on satellite camps

“We voted through the Big 12 and the Big 12 carries our votes as a representative form of governance, so the schools have spoken,” Lyons told the website. “I don’t see it being tabled over overturned. I don’t think you’re going to have those numbers.”

Lyons said the camps were formed to develop players.

“And they’ve turned totally into recruiting tools,” he told WVSports.com. “I think it’s forcing your institution and camp to move all around the country. In reality, how many of those kids are really coming to your school?

“I think it was some of the schools in Texas and Florida that felt like the schools from the north were taking their prospects. We have kids from Florida on our team and we have never held a camp down there.”

He said he will continue to monitor the news.

“I do believe it was the right decision at this time,” Lyons said. “The conferences have spoken.”