Guess who is back making odd votes at the NCAA Division 1 Council again? It's your friendly neighborhood Sun Belt Conference representative and Texas State athletic director Larry Teis, he of the seemingly inexplicable vote to ban satellite camps despite a significant portion of the Sun Belt and his own head coach being seemingly in favor of them (and whose vote apparently would've mattered if the Pac 12 rep hadn't gone completely off the reservation).
Yesterday, the NCAA voted overwhelmingly in favor of allowing schools to pay round trip costs for the parents or legal guardians of recruits who want to accompany their sons on official recruiting visits. It's a move with potentially large implications as parents will now get a larger stake in the recruiting process, and it could potentially make a difference in recruiting between schools who do pay for the parents' and guardians' round trip tickets and those who don't.
The NCAA initiative, one Proposal 2015-52, was passed by a 14-1 vote. Larry Teis, and by extension the Sun Belt, was the one dissenting vote. Which of course begs the same question we asked last time: Why?
Unlike with the satellite camps, there are some potentially pragmatic explanations for this latest vote. First and foremost, the Sun Belt as a whole has the lowest operating budgets of any conference in the FBS, which means programs have to stretch every single dollar whenever and wherever they can.
Biased parents can also hinder rather than help a certain school's chances, and can in extreme cases be a tremendous nuisance in general. Not to mention kids will now be pressured to bring parents along on recruiting trips when they may have wanted a chance to make an independent choice for themselves (or, more simply, just get out of the house for a couple of days).
One thing worth noting is that it's unclear what Sun Belt coaches and ADs think on this issue, as there has been considerably less smoke coming from different schools on the issue than after the ban on satellite camps.
Yet are those reasons for pause worth a vote against a move that would in all likelihood be welcomed by many recruits and coaches? Additionally, is it really worth the hit in PR to the Sun Belt by coming off as the one cold-hearted conference that wouldn't want to allow a recruit and their family the option to be as informed as possible about where he'll be spending the next four years? This vote also comes from an AD who had already dithered on providing Cost of Attendance stipends at Texas State, so the questions about Teis's motives will only intensify.
Representatives to the NCAA Division 1 Council are elected for a term of 4 years, meaning Teis, elected in 2015, will be representing the conference until 2019.
One fact that's worth noting is that the collective silence from Teis and his fellow committee members on the rationales for their votes isn't entirely a case of administrators covering their own butts, or their respective conferences covering said butts for them. Instead, it's the NCAA blocking any real attempts at sunlight on these issues.
From Joe Vozzelli, who covered in detail the seeming conflict between Texas State head coach Everett Withers and Teis on the issue of satellite camps:
Teis declined comment for this story, citing the fact that "the NCAA does not want individual voting members discussing the vote."
It's unclear just how much blowback a D1 Council member would get from speaking out publicly on his or her vote, but it is certain that they're strongly discouraged from doing so.
So in all fairness, Larry Teis has done everything by the book in the eyes of the NCAA and Sun Belt. The problem is, said book is so wide and opaque that seemingly anything can be done by these representatives. Once again, per Vozzelli (emphasis mine):
"A majority of the Sun Belt membership was in favor of satellite camps. It wasn't unanimous, however," Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said in a phone interview. "Larry (Teis) is not locked into or obligated to side with the majority. He had the latitude to make a decision that was not necessarily in the best interest of Texas State or a majority of the Sun Belt but in the best interest of college football. To throw Larry Teis under the bus and to call him out for not representing the Sun Belt is uncalled for.
Karl Benson can be indignant all he wants, but the reason why there has been so much speculation regarding Teis's motives and intentions in his recent NCAA votes is because there's so little transparency to the voting process. Although Teis is very much a "do everything by the rules" personality, some of the wilder speculations regarding his motives will happen anyway because of the natural suspicion of corruption that comes along with NCAA politics for many.
Although this state of affairs is confusing and frustrating to many, the NCAA is under no legal responsibility to act like a congressional body with members that are accountable to their constituents. Additionally, from the NCAA's perspective, allowing administrators to comment on their votes could represent a cavalcade of potential public relations landmines waiting to happen.
Because of these realities, nothing will likely change unless one of the Council members goes rogue and speaks publicly, possibly risking his or her own seat. Either that or the NCAA decides the hit to PR in not commenting outweighs the potential fallout from an administrator going off the reservation. However, given the NCAA's track record of intractability when it comes to just about any issue, one would be well advised to not hold their breath.