Possible loss of July recruiting a bad idea

By Chris Dertz

Well, the Mayans had it right. The world, as well as college basketball coaches everywhere, has just received its first sign of confirmation that the world will in fact end in 2012.

And this sign came gift-wrapped by the Conference Commissioners Association (CCA), who recently voted 31-0 to “recommend” abolishing summer recruiting trips.

If this does not make you scratch your head with a rusty rake, then nothing will.

The CCA is recommending this for one reason and one reason only: to try and stem the influence of third-party influences. I fail to see, however, how eliminating the positive presence of college coaches and their staffs helps to stem the wave of agents, runners, advisers and other entities that can impact an athlete’s decision.

What are these programs supposed to do if they can’t travel to see recruits multiple times over the summer? Where does this leave young men who believe that the road to a Division I program lies in playing summer ball?

In today’s economic climate, not even major programs have the budget to make multiple trips to see individual recruits even once, let alone the multiple number of times it takes to adequately evaluate a recruit.

This is where the CCA’s recommendation really threatens what makes NCAA Division I basketball one of the best sports on the face of the planet: Mid-major programs.

With budgets far smaller than those offered by big-conference programs, these coaches will find it impossible to travel during the short window provided in the spring to see individual prospects. It’s simply not possible.

And that’s beside the matter anyway, because coaches can’t see the prospects in the spring, because they are playing in AAU events, which coaches aren’t allowed to attend. Is a head coach really going to take the time out to miss a day of practice to go and evaluate one player?

Eliminating July as a recruitment period could force the coaches of major programs to offer scholarships, official invitations and positions blindly. The simple prospect of this is just silly.

The CCA’s recommendation goes far beyond just trying to prevent the damage that could be done by third parties: it could threaten the competitive integrity and thrill of the recruiting trail, and therefore the sport as a whole.