Thursday, January 7, 2010

Another Blow to Grassroots Basketball

You may not know it, but as the AAU basketball season approaches, the NCAA Board of Directors has been busy drafting legislation that will change the face of summer basketball. Clay Dade's BlogTalk Radio Show has shined a light on the fact that the NCAA will soon pass new rules that will prohibit tournaments, camps and other events from being held on D-I college campuses.

That's right, mega tournaments like Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions (Duke, North Carolina and NC State), Pittsburgh Jam Fest (University of Pittsburgh), It Takes 5ive Classic (University of Cincinnati), King James Classic (University of Akron and Kent State University), Real Deal on the Rock/Hill (University of Arkansas), Wallace Prather (Georgia Tech) will all have to find new homes. It's not just tournaments, but elite camps such as the Lebron James Skills Academy (University of Akron & Cleveland State), Reebok U (Philadelphia University) and other high profile camps will have to relocate. It's not just the big guys, but smaller more local and regional events will also have to find new court space. Don't forget the McDonald's All-American Game (Ohio State University this year) which could also be impacted. In addition, events like Clay Dade's Jr. All-American Camp, which was held at the University of Kentucky this past summer, will be forced to move.

Why is the NCAA taking such drastic steps? Some people close to the game feel that the NCAA is trying to reduce the influence of grassroots/AAU basketball, while returning the power and influence currently enjoyed by travel team coaches and program directors, to high school basketball coaches. Critics will also point to earlier NCAA legislation, which limited "open periods" for college coaches to a few weeks in July as a way of discouraging AAU coaches and players from traveling to elite tournaments around the country, as more evidence of the NCAA's bad intentions. The general rule of thought is, if college coaches were not present at these tournaments, travel teams would pass on the big boys and choose instead, to attend smaller, more local and regional events. As we all know, the rule changes did not achieve their intended goals, as travel teams continued to attend these big time tournaments. Now, instead of following the college coaches, the teams and players follow the scouting services and continue to take advantage of the opportunity to take what amounted to unofficial visits on these college campuses. Other NCAA initiatives such as the popular iHoops program-also known as First Team-are seen as more intrusion into grassroots basketball.

It's not just the NCAA who is pushing this legislation, which will take effect immediately, just in time for AAU season, but many college coaches support the changes because of the perceived advantages these large tournaments provide to their colleagues. Think about it, you are a big time recruit who has the chance to tour the facilities and campuses at North Carolina, Duke and NC State while spending a weekend at the Bob Gibbons TOC. Chances are, you are going to be influenced by the experience. Coaches from colleges who do not host such events feel these schools have an unfair advantage by hosting these types of events. It's also important to note that although coaches on those host campuses are prohibited from watching the actual games going on their campuses, they always seem to be around at the end of the event to greet prospective recruits and their families as they depart the tournaments.

College presidents have endorsed Proposal No. 2009-100 as well, despite the fact that their universities are currently suffering during this poor economy, and will lose revenue streams from these summer events. Talk about panicking, what about the major tournament organizers like the Hoop Group, who hosts huge tournaments at the University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Providence? Without the facility space these universities offer, not to mention the allure of playing on college campuses, these tournaments could suffer a significant financial impact.

The reality is, the big tournaments will find away to adjust to the new rules, and will continue to generate big profits; it's the players and their families who will miss the opportunity to play at storied venues such as Cameron Indoor Stadium or the Dean Dome. It's the players who will not get to experience the thrill of playing on the floor of their favorite program and hanging out on various college campuses around the country. Instead of playing on the floor of UC Arena in Cincinnati during the first week of July, players will likely be playing in dimly lit recreation centers, on small middle school courts and older high school gymnasiums around the country. Thanks NCAA for diminishing the experience of grassroots basketball.


  1. Clay Dade wouldn't be invited back to Kentucky anyway. He is yet to pay anyone that worked the event that he hired.

  2. Good Article, however the economy/power is a big factor with the NCAA's proposoal on closing the D1 gates. If you (event director) signed a contract with a D1 site (Hoop Group/King James/Take 5ive etc) before the proposal was announced then you will be grandfathered into the system for the first year. If you haven't....then you will just have to wait and see what goes down at the NCAA meeting. The NCAA has already passed rulings on AAU coaches/mentors with scouting services and non-profit donation programs such as 501c, by not allowing NCAA programs to fund those accounts. I feel the NCAA is giving power back to high school coaches and wouldn't be surpised if they opened up a week of evaluation in the month of June for high school Team Camps or Shootouts. High School coaches have a stronger chain of command then Grassroots members. (Principals/Athletic Directors/Supers etc) With the tough economic times, colleges are also effected with travel costs, rental cars, hotels, etc. This is why non-D1 sites will now make events Regional and allow for less slush-funds and backstage handshakes. I strongly feel all-star college camps and individual events will be the new wave of recruiting. For Lebron's camp that can now be hosted at the Cav's practice facility or another Pro Venue if needed.
    I feel AAU will still be around, just not as powerful.

  3. Rob - Do you homework and research ! The men's basketball coaches are pushing this proposal and it is the same legal issue that was done in US Federal Court in 1993, BlueStar vs. NCAA. The NCAA settled this Sherman Anti-Trust case out of court. The NCAA passed this exact rule and it was taken out in the settlement. The men forgot about it and are bringing it back. If it goes in, it will be another round of legal actions. And the reason, Elite Boys Basketball which will play regardless of college coaches or not. Be informed before you write. HS coaches are on the take the same as travel if you want to paint that. They want the perks directed their way too. You forgot the mention the other proposal where college coaches can RECRUIT at their own events. No more "instructional." Full-blown recruiting from the start with parents, players. Every college camps a recruiting camp.

  4. This rule will help the rich and hurt the poor. Same crap as always. Some of the majors are losing kids. Some of the mids and lows are actually getting better. Why? Because the smaller schools without the big bugets can find the kids at these AAU events. Now they have to go all over the country to schools to try and find players. Who wins that game. The majors? They have the resourses to be in Podunk Pa. to see Dushon Star play where Hofstra can`t hope to take their private jet cause they don`t have one. Its the same shiz the NCAss has been doing forever And I am a former HS school coach