Sound Mind Sound Body appears headed for Grand Valley

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Darius Timmons of Plymouth goes through drills during the 2016 Sound Mind Sound Body camp at Wayne State.

Sound Mind Sound Body might be heading west.

The wildly successful football camp in Detroit since 2004, every year drawing some of the biggest-name coaches in the country, appears to be moving to Grand Valley State in Allendale next month. It was held at Wayne State last year, but an athletic-department spokesman confirmed it won't be there this year.

New NCAA rules passed last month regarding summer camps have left camp organizers and football programs scrambling to put together schedules that adhere to the guidelines.

Grand Valley head coach Matt Mitchell said nothing is official, but he's "optimistic" the camp is coming to campus -- even if not technically under the Sound Mind Sound Body moniker.

"I'm trying to work through some things," Mitchell said. "We would get some prospects on our campus that maybe wouldn't normally come this far west.

"I've been in conversations today with NCAA compliance, things like that," he said Friday. "Early next week, the middle of next week, we'll have a final decision."

Time clearly is of the essence.

The Sound Mound Sound Body camp is to be held in just three weeks -- June 9 and 10 -- and Mitchell confirmed those are the dates for the camp planned at Grand Valley. But the Sound Mind Sound Body website still lists Detroit as the destination, even if there's no specific site listed.

The camp's website says reservations, at $99 per player, are full, but is taking wait list submissions. Parents who've already paid don't know where the camp will take place.  A Wayne State spokesman said he's fielded at least one call from a parent asking where the camp will be hosted.

A message sent Friday to the email address listed on the Sound Mind Sound Body website was returned as undeliverable. A phone number listed only has nine numbers. Another phone number listed on the website includes 10 zeroes. Curtis Blackwell, co-founder of the camp, is on suspension from his role as director of football recruiting at Michigan State.

Michigan was said, at one time, to be interested in hosting the camp, as was Lawrence Tech in Southfield.

Those involved with Sound Mind Sound Body, Mitchell said, recently formed an LLC, Camp Management LLC, to help organize football camps as a third party. Its website is bare bones, and includes no phone number or any details on specific camps.

The NCAA Division I Council last month passed a number of new rules, several specific to camps -- which have been a hot-button issue since Jim Harbaugh arrived as coach at Michigan, and started holding camps not just across the nation, but across the globe.

Now, schools are limited to having staff members present at just 10 camps in June and July. For perspective, Harbaugh's summer tour last year included 38 camps in 21 states and two countries. Camps also must be held on a university's campus, or at a university's football stadium, if off-campus. Another rule -- and this is a big one -- football programs who employ high school coaches then are prohibited from recruiting a player from that high school for two years. Football programs that run camps often hire high school coaches to work them.

Whatever version of the camp that likely will be at Grand Valley will be much smaller in scale than previous Sound Mind Sound Body camps, highly acclaimed for not just skill development, but life lessons. More than 240 coaches attended last year's Sound Mind Sound Body, including 30 head coaches.

"I've been at previous Sound Mind Sound Body camps, and (it wouldn't be) to that volume," Mitchell said. "But we have the facilities to handle it. We have four facilities and from a staffing standpoint; the instruction will be coming from Grand Valley coaches. ... It's not a logistical issue.

"I would say I'm optimistic."

Since 2004, more than 13,000 kids have attended Sound Mind Sound Body, in multiple locations. Last year, there were camps in six cities. This year, there are two camps scheduled, according to the website, including one in Washington, D.C., though there is no specific location listed.

As for Wayne State, it is planning multiple camps this summer at Adams Field, but none affiliated with Sound Mind Sound Body. June 4 will feature Iowa State, Central Michigan, Ball State, Toledo and Bowling Green; June 14 will feature Arkansas and Western Michigan; and June 16 will feature Michigan State, Iowa and Bowling Green.