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The G5 Got Punked by the NCAA's Satellite Camp Ban

On April 8th, the NCAA Division I Council voted to end satellite camps for everyone. For most Group of Five schools (but not all), the ban puts a serious crimp on recruiting.

Dabo and his cronies continue to get what they want from the NCAA
Dabo and his cronies continue to get what they want from the NCAA
Harry How/Getty Images

Terry Mohajir, the Arkansas State Athletic Director, bore his usual restless, ADD demeanor, pacing the sideline at War Memorial Stadium, clearly anxious for action but not necessarily picky as to what kind. Which is why it's pretty easy to approach Mohajir if you want to ask a question. Giving answers is a form of action.

"HeyHiWhat'sUp!" is Mohajir's standard greeting. On this night, he's wearing khaki pants and a slimming red sweater. He looks fit enough to join the Red Wolves practice that's in progress on the turf. I might be the only thing stopping him, I don't know.

"Hey, Terry," I say, "I just wanted to get your thoughts about today's satellite camp ruling from the NCAA."

Terry's mood darkens, which is a story all by itself. He puts his hands on his hips and stares ruefully into the Little Rock sky, as if attempting to pick a fight with the moon. He's not happy with the NCAA. He's not amused with the Sun Belt's Division I Council Member who voted against the camps. He thinks kids are getting a raw deal. "It stinks," he says.

Terry's right. It stinks. In an effort to assuage the hurt-feelings of two conferences with more gold than Midas, the NCAA delivered a crippling deathblow to smaller programs who are just trying to give kids a shot at playing FBS football. (And, yes, unearth a few overlooked gems to place onto their rosters.)

Mohajir wasn't the only Red Wolf annoyed with the NCAA decision. We caught Coach Blake Anderson after the Little Rock Scrimmage, and he had this to say about the satellite camp ban:

I disagree with it completely. I think (the ban) is in the best interest of a few schools. It's not in the best interest of players. Two years in a row, we signed 90% of our recruiting by being able to to make camps available (to athletes). We made no money off of it. We get to see kids that normally don't come to Jonesboro. I think there's a handful of schools that scream loud enough get what they want. But it's not good for the kids at all.

It's clear that Anderson sees two interests being foiled: 1) the underprivileged athlete, and 2) his own program, which does not have the P5 gravity to pull in all the desirable recruits.

And yet, there are Group of Five schools who are also opposed to satellite camps. In fact, the Sun Belt and Mountain West both sided with the SEC, ACC and the PAC-12 in supporting the satellite camp ban. Mark Hudspeth, head coach of the Louisiana Cajuns, had this to say about the NCAA ruling:

"I am in favor of banning the camps. It’s totally out of control, just ruining the entire summer for prospects and for coaches. Plus that keeps more in state players here. We’ve got a lot of talent in this state and we want those guys coming to our camp this summer."

Gosh, Mark Hudspeth. We wouldn't want to ruin your entire summer. (Hey, did you know most people actual work during the summer?) But maybe he has a point about keeping in-state players in the state.

I traded a few tweets with a anonymous colleague that I won't name (Will Butler) who reminded me that there are plenty of  G5 schools working talent-rich footprints. Arkansas State – where talent is sparse and picked over by at least three nearby programs – has been known to host camps in Texas and Alabama, an athletic goldmine. It's understandable if a program like Texas State or South Alabama would rather not see P5 or peer-conference schools saunter onto its turf.

Then again, new Texas State head coach Everett Withers was reportedly at odds with his own AD, Larry Teis, who cast the Sun Belt vote for the DI Council. It's a divisive issue. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh declared that Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze wasn't a "kindred spirit," and Hugh responded by saying he was too great a Dad to support satellite camps, or something. Really, it was a war of words delivered with the nuance of a professional golfer awkwardly high-fiving his caddie.

For me, banning satellite camps was best summed up by Clemson's Dabo Swinney explanation on (ironically) satellite radio; that the only recruits he wants are the ones "willing to come to Clemson's campus." Dabo's words smack of an arrogance afforded only to programs too steeped in resources to care about a 2-star athlete without a bus ticket to South Carolina.

Dabo's got his. Who cares about everyone else?