Basketball coaches know one of the most influential ways they can sway a prospect to come to their school is through an on-campus basketball camp. They get to show off the best their campus has to offer, plus there's the element of games, competition, where the player and the coach get to see how each other interacts and operates.
These camps happen regularly, and the allowances and benefits top prospects have received in the past while visiting a school in the summer for a few days went unchecked. That can lead to a Wild West mentality, of course, as nearly everything that's unregulated in college sports reaches a ridiculous, absurd threshold of handouts, freebies and illegal donations.
The NCAA has cracked down in recent years, and it's going to continue to do so, according to USA Today, mainly by showing up unannounced and observing/reporting what happens at these camps while they're there. This is a point of emphasis for the NCAA, one of many it's employing in an effort to keep up with programs trying to remain competitively ahead of the game, fairly or not.
"We want to instill some deterrence," [basketball enforcement director LuAnn] Humphrey said, "and show we are really serious about this camp issue."The primary concern of the NCAA is how the recruit is treated -- top-tier prospects shouldn't and can't receive benefits other attendees aren't -- and if the recruit has a person with them being paid money to assure the coach that said recruit will attend the camp. It basically boils down to the NCAA not wanting this conversation to ever happen.
Violations of these camp-related rules can bring suspensions for head coaches.
Humphrey declined to say how many camps might be visited, only that there will be "more" than last year, and the visits will "absolutely not be random enforcement" but a product of "strategic decisions" based on information the enforcement staff has been gathering the past two to three months.
Coach: I'm looking for Joe Q 5-star to attend our camp this summer. I know you're close with him. Can you get him here?
Person of Influence: Sure, so long as you can guarantee me a few thousand dollars.
That's a big no-no. It can't directly put a recruit in hot water, but it can get coaches in trouble. This is basically the NCAA stepping into the room and wanting everyone to tuck their shirt in and act accordingly. Coaches won't love it, but it's no sweat off their backs if they're running camps cleanly and fairly. This a preemptive measure by the NCAA and one that needs to be taken to keep college hoops as sterile and balanced as possible during the offseason, when idle hands and minds all too often wander into trouble.