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UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero didn’t expect the satellite camp issue to come to a vote at the NCAA’s Division I Council meeting on April 9. But it did come to a vote, and it passed with Guerrero voting in favor. Guerrero—the Pac-12’s representative on the council—then had to tell his colleagues why he voted against the wishes of 11 of the league’s 12 schools. He wrote that when it became apparent the ban would pass no matter how the Pac-12 voted, he threw his support behind the proposal that most resembled one already on the Pac-12 books.
In an email sent to Pac-12 administrators by associate commissioner Jamie Zaninovich on April 13 and obtained Wednesday by SI.com, Guerrero explained why he ultimately cast a vote to ban satellite camps* even though the league had previously voted 11–0 (with UCLA abstaining) against the ban. Guerrero’s email provides more context to the comments of Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who told reporters at a College Football Playoff meeting in Dallas on Wednesday that Guerrero “did not vote the way he was supposed to vote.”
*For those who haven’t been following college football’s most recent legislative drama, “satellite camp” is a catch-all term for a practice in which coaches from one school either hold a camp of their own off campus or work at someone else’s camp at an off-campus location. This could be Michigan coaches teaming with the staff of a suburban Atlanta high school or Oklahoma State coaches teaming with a Division III staff in central Texas. It also would include MAC assistant coaches working camps at Big Ten schools or Sun Belt Conference assistants working camps at SEC schools. The camps help staffs whose schools are in less recruit-rich areas to see more players in person. They also help schools with smaller recruiting budgets to see more recruits who may not encounter those schools’ coaches except at the camp of a Power Five school. The ACC and the SEC submitted separate proposals to ban the camps in order to protect their schools’ fertile recruiting turf. Both those leagues already had rules against satellite camps in place to keep their own members from invading the regions of other members. This issue became a big deal to those leagues when Jim Harbaugh decided to take Michigan’s staff on the road last year.
Guerrero climbed from beneath the bus under which Scott threw him Wednesday and told SI.com that he went to the meeting with the intention of voting against the ban—if it even came to a vote. Guerrero had expected the Football Oversight Committee to table the satellite camp discussion, but a one-vote margin moved it to the council for action. And when it became apparent from the discussions in the meeting that the Big 12, Sun Belt and Mountain West would join the ACC and SEC in voting for the ban, Guerrero had to make a call because the Pac-12’s “no” vote would not change the outcome. This is common in the NCAA’s version of representative democracy. Occasionally leagues will direct a representative to vote a certain way no matter what.
In other cases, the representative will be given latitude to assess the situation and cast the vote that either helps the league the most or damages the league the least. It appears this was one such situation for Guerrero. There were two proposals before the council. Proposal 2015–59, from the ACC, was the one that ultimately passed. It banned FBS coaches from hosting or working camps off their own campuses. Proposal 2015–60, from the SEC, was modeled on the SEC’s rule that banned coaches from working camps more than 50 miles from campus. Because the Pac-12 has a rule that bans coaches from hosting—but not from working—camps off their own campuses, Guerrero voted for 59 to block 60.
“My assessment was that one of the two was going to pass, and we didn’t know which one,” Guerrero said. “I had to vote for 59 because if that failed and 60 passed, Pac-12 schools would have been at a disadvantage.”
What he means is that other schools would have been allowed to hold camps within 50 miles while Pac-12 schools would be banned by their own rule from doing that. Whether closing that particular potential loophole is worth all the grief Guerrero has received since casting that vote is another question. But it is clear Guerrero did not expect the issue to come to a vote. “Going into the meetings, it was the feeling of many members of the D1 Council that these proposals would be tabled at the request of the FOC, thereby rendering both of these proposals moot, and keeping the current rule relative to ‘satellite camps’ unchanged,” he wrote to his colleagues last week. “In fact this was the preferred outcome by our Conference as indicated in the preparatory materials I received prior to the meeting.”
This is not the only instance of confusion and regret arising from this particular vote. Last week, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told SI.com that the rule needed to be amended to allow coaches from Group of Five conferences to work camps on Power Five campuses. The unintended consequence of the rule, they said, would keep deserving players from meeting Group of Five coaches and would harm those programs’ ability to recruit effectively within their limited budgets. Also last week, Texas State coach Everett Withers told the San Marcos (Texas) Daily Record that the ban was a mistake. “It was a snap decision. It was a bad decision,” Withers told the paper. “It’s not very good for kids who need coaches like myself and other coaches in the Sun Belt to be able to go to Texas’s and Ohio State’s camps and see those kids.” Texas State’s athletic director, Larry Teis, was the Sun Belt representative on the council. He cast a vote for the ban—against the wishes of the majority of the league’s schools.
Because Power Five conference votes count double, the result of the vote was 10–5 for the ban. Had Guerrero and Teis voted in accordance with the wishes of the majority of their respective conferences’ schools, the result would have been 8–7 against the ban.
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Given the angst the ban has caused, it is highly likely it will be revisited by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors when it meets on April 28. The board typically rubber-stamps the council’s votes, but in this case it could overturn the result and demand the issue be discussed more thoroughly before a rule is enacted. Scott told reporters in Dallas that he expected this to happen. UCLA chancellor Gene Block is the Pac-12’s representative on the board. If he helps convince the board to overturn the council’s vote, it would definitely take some heat off his athletic director.
Here is the text of Guerrero’s letter to his fellow Pac-12 ADs:
Dear Pac-12 colleagues,
Recognizing the inquiries made to the Pac-12 Conference office about the decision rendered at NCAA Division 1 Council meeting this past week to pass Proposal 2015–59, ending “satellite camps”, I thought it best convey my rationale for voting to support this piece of legislation. Prior to these meetings, I had extensive conversations with Pac-12 representatives in regard to the Conference’s position on a number of legislative proposals—the “satellite camp” proposals included. With an 0–11–1 vote cast by the Pac-12 Council, a vote to oppose proposals 2015–59 (sponsored by the ACC) and 2015–60, (sponsored by the SEC) was the charge with the ultimate goal to refer the legislation to the Football Oversight Committee (FOC).
Going into the meetings, it was the feeling of many members of the D1 Council that these proposals would be tabled at the request of the FOC, thereby rendering both of these proposals moot, and keeping the current rule relative to “satellite camps” unchanged. In fact this was the preferred outcome by our Conference as indicated in the preparatory materials I received prior to the meeting.
When this did not happen, it was conveyed on the Council floor that the FOC was supportive of 2015–59 and/or 2015–60. Based on the subsequent discussion it appeared as though passage was imminent. Therefore, I made the call to support 2015–59, which was the preference of the two options.
Proposal 2015–59 was clearly preferable from a Pac-12 perspective because it is aligned with current Pac-12 legislation SPR 6–6(a) that limits institutional camps to the campus. If 2015–60 had passed, other conferences would have had a more lenient camp rule than the Pac-12 . As such, avoiding that outcome became my top priority.
When my read of the situation was that 2015–59 was going to pass, regardless of a Pac-12 vote against, I voted in favor of this proposition as it was the more consistent of the two with current Pac-12 legislation.
Hopefully this sheds some light on the process.
Director of Athletics, UCLA