Jim Harbaugh rips NCAA for decision to outlaw satellite camps

ByDan Murphy ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's much anticipated response to a new NCAA rule banning satellite camps didn't disappoint.

In an interview with SI.com on Tuesday, Harbaugh accused the NCAA of hypocrisy and compared college football's power brokers to politicians from the smoke-filled room era.

"The image that comes to my mind is guys in a back room smoking cigars, doing what they perceive is best for them," Harbaugh told SI.com. "It certainly isn't the best thing for the youngsters. It's not the best thing for the student-athletes."

The new rule, introduced by the ACC and voted on by representatives from all 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences last Friday, bans college coaches from leaving their campus to participate in summer camps held for high school prospects. The so-called satellite camps were recruiting instruments used by many football programs, but Harbaugh became the events' poster child by playing his the loudest and most frequently last year during his first summer as Michigan's coach.

Schools from the SEC and ACC led the charge to eliminate these camps in recent months, saying that the summer months are a rare opportunity for coaching staffs to spend time with their families. Both leagues had rules in place that prohibited their coaches from attending satellite camps, but were prepared to do away with those rules if the NCAA-wide ban had not passed.

"You've got a guy sitting in a big house, making $5 million a year, saying he does not want to sacrifice his time," Harbaugh said. "That is not a kindred spirit to me. What most of these coaches are saying is they don't want to work harder."

Harbaugh, along with many others, have argued that the camps were a benefit to prospective athletes who could showcase their abilities in front of visiting coaches who might not otherwise see them. These events were also a vital recruiting tool for smaller Group of Five program coaches, who attended bigger schools' camps in the summer to look for players among the large crowds they attracted.

Harbaugh called the rule a "knee-jerk reaction" and called the NCAA incompetent for overlooking the benefits the camps provide to prospective players. He suggested that the NCAA should do away with the term "student-athlete" if the men in power continued to act in their own interests instead of helping students.

He is far from the only one upset by the rule change. Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, Washington State's Mike Leach and Penn State's James Franklin, among others, have put out similar messages in the past few days. Many former, current and future players have also spoken up, saying that the camps were valuable for them.

Former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones lashed out at the NCAA on multiple issues Monday and told ESPN's Mike & Mike that the rant came from "seeing the ban of the satellite camps and just knowing how much the satellite camps did for me" and his former teammates.

A change.org petition started by the mother of a high-profile Detroit area high school prospect had more than 11,000 digital signatures as of 8 p.m. Tuesday night. The petition asked NCAA's Board of Directors to overturn the new rule.

The board will meet at the end of April and will have the option to approve or veto the new rule established by the conferences' vote.

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