Guest Coaches: Exploring the Latest Front In College Football's Ongoing Arms Race

By Patrick Maks on June 16, 2014 at 1:05p
17 Comments

In an unending and exhausting grind to be among college football’s elite, consider summer recruiting the latest front in the the sport’s swelling arms race.

And if June and July were ever considered a de facto armistice, such a time feels ancient. Welcome to a world with truly no offseason. 

While months still loom before a single ball is blasted off a single tee to kick off another season and mark yet another conception of championship-filled hopes and dreams, the campaign toward football glory starts now. 

In a thorough and powerful exposé on the wild west nature of summer recruiting and how schools might've found a loophole around intricate and meticulous NCAA rules governing proper practices, Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com explored how some schools are putting high school coaches — who happen to sometimes have relationships with target prospective student-athletes — on their payroll for summer camps. 

According to Fowler’s Wednesday report, Ohio State, Florida State and Washington combined for more than $150,000 in guest camp fees last summer, raising questions over the legality and morality of such a commonplace practice. 

In the case of Ohio State, which paid $50,359.09 to 147 guest coaches/counselors working its 2013 camps, the vast majority of that money went to in-state high school coaches, smaller, lower-level college coaches and members of the Buckeyes’ own support staff. 

It’s an easy, practical and permissible way to make a couple hundred dollars while gaining coaching/scouting experience. 

What concerns some coaches and experts in the field, however, is how the system in place and its somewhat unregulated nature might be ripe for abuse.

Arizona and former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez called it a “shuttle service.”

“Essentially what (schools) are doing is paying to bring prospects to their camps,” Rodriguez told Fowler and CBSSports.com.

And according to NCAA bylaw 13.12.2.2 (b), which forbids schools from paying guest coaches “on the basis of the value he or she may have for the employer because of his or her reputation or contact with prospective student-athletes,” that has the potential to be a problem. 

But bringing in high school coaches — and those with ties to highly-touted and sought-after recruits — seems to be a relatively routine, albeit dubious, affair.

In addition to the Buckeyes, Seminoles and Huskies, Fowler looked into Oregon, Wisconsin, LSU, Clemson, Georgia, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. 

According to Fowler's report, Florida State shelled out $70,808.64 for 141 coaches, Washington paid $32,588.60 for 29 coaches, Wisconsin paid $10,809.38 for 39 coaches and Oregon paid $3,000 for 20 coaches. Virginia Tech and Georgia did not enlist guest coaches. LSU, Clemson and Oklahoma run their camps through private entities and thus did not provide public records of guest fees to CBSSports.com. 

And the NCAA doesn’t regulate the number of unofficial visits a prospective student-athlete can take. Meaning, in theory, recruits can take as many trips as they wants to Columbus, Tallahassee or Eugene before having to follow a more stringent code when it comes to the flurry of official visits in the fall.

For schools vying for the same talent and competing for the same thing, it might be a matter of strategic posturing. The more you can get a recruit on your campus, the more you can sell him on your product before other suitors try to do the same. The concept itself is pretty simple, pretty smart. 

Cultivating an army of high school coaches to provide support for massive summer camps is a standard and acceptable procedure too. 

According to NCAA bylaw 13.12.2.2:

A member institution (or employees of its athletics department) may employ a high school, preparatory school or two-year-college coach or any other individual responsible for teaching or directing an activity in which a prospective student-athlete is involved at its camp or clinic.

And schools are within their rights to pay their guest coaches, according to NCAA bylaw 13.12.2.2 (a): 

The individual receives compensation that is commensurate with the going rate for camp counselors of like teaching ability and camp experience.

The gray area, of course, hovers around the notion of paying for influence and whether schools are using money to indirectly influence where a prospective recruit ultimately signs. 

Through an open records request, Eleven Warriors obtained the list of guest coaches Ohio State paid for their services last summer. Here’s a breakdown of what notable high school coaches — and their respective compensation — are listed on the four-page document: 

  • Paul Meunier ($1,409): Meunier, an assistant coach at Dwyer High School in Palm Beach, Fla., coached highly-touted freshman wide receiver Johnnie Dixon. 
  • Tyrone Giscombe ($671.60): Giscombe, a coach at Cocoa High School in Cocoa, Fla., coaches 2015 commit Jamel Dean. According to the list, Giscombe was paid one installment $350 and three other installments of $321.60 in addition to having $321.60 deducted. 
  • Roderick Chapman: ($1,210): Chapman is listed as the junior varsity coach for Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Md., (just outside Washington, D.C.) where one-time Buckeyes target and Rivals.com five-star tackle Damian Prince went to prep school before electing to attend Maryland in February.
  • Aazaar Abdul-Rahim ($752): Abdul-Rahim, who stepped down from his post at Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington, D.C., to serve as a defensive analyst for Alabama in February, coached Rivals.com five-star cornerback, one-time Ohio State target and and Florida commit Jalen Tabor.

And while more than $4,000 is a small chunk out of a payroll of 147 guest coaches and counselors, it may raising flags amidst a turbulent college football landscape.

“There will be times where it makes you raise your eyebrows, the traveling of long distances,” NCAA managing director of enforcement Mark Hicks told Fowler. 

“Are we concerned? Absolutely. Does it mean every time a high school coach works a football camp that something must be wrong? No.”

Because interest in Ohio State from Dixon, Dean, Prince and Tabor was there regardless. What remains more muddled, though, is whether the Buckeyes — and other schools employing the same practice — gain some sort of competitive edge in college football's rat race.

17 Comments

Comments

BroJim's picture

Interesting read, I wonder how the NCAA will react.

I season my simple food with hunger

AndyVance's picture

In a thorough and powerful exposé on the wild west nature of summer recruiting and how schools might've found a loophole around intricate and meticulous NCAA rules governing proper practices, Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com explored how some schools are putting high school coaches — who happen to sometimes have relationships with target prospective student-athletes — on their payroll for summer camps. 

If this article had appeared under DJ's byline, I would have just assumed this was his trademark satire/sarcasm... Realizing it was not, I had to re-read that paragraph and suppress a chuckle. Yes, Fowler's piece was quite in-depth, but this entire "story" feels way too much like a tempest in a teapot. Are abuses possible? Yes. Does that mean we need the heavy hand of the NCAA creating an even more onerous compliance burden on schools in an effort to police guest coaching at summer camps? God I hope not.

+3 HS
IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Of course a HS coach is going to take advantage of  this, they don't make what a college coach does and travel expenses are always increasing. I agree a HS coach can pad his resume by saying he coached at an OSU or Bama camp alongside Urbz or Little Nicky. That's simply a good career move. I'm also sure some of these HS coaches are telling colleges, "Yeah sure, I'll bring my stud LB to your camp if you give me a little something extra." It happens. The colleges can pony up if they want to see that player firsthand. Or simply pass. Nobody is forcing colleges to give these coaches anything.

Where it becomes really sketchy is when you get into a bidding war for a commitment. A HS coach could come along and say "Pay me $100,000 and I'll get my kid to commit to you during the camp." That's where it starts turning into Sham Newton and his dad all over again. $4000 for gas, food, hotel rooms and expenses to transport a bunch of minors is one thing. $100-200K is quite another. That's bagmen territory.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

+5 HS
NitroBuck's picture

Good points.  A perfect example of how this can go wrong is the Albert Means case when a Bama booster paid approx $200 K to his high school coach to steer him to Tuscaloosa.

Ferio.  Tego.

RUNTOWIN's picture

I worked the OSU Camp for several years when Tress was the HC. I can tell you, the majority of coaches (probably 99.9%) didn't bring top prospects with them. We all did it to make a few bucks, be able to hang out with the other HS coaches (it is a truly unique group of guys with a unique bond), network, be around the OSU coaches, learn and talk football, and coach different kids. I never saw a guy there we hadn't seen in past years who was only there because they had a stud recruit with them. Never. 

Now, that doesn't mean something fishy isn't going on but I never saw it. 

+4 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

I agree with Andy that, at least to this point, the whole thing is a 'tempest in a tea pot'. Thanks for some perspective from the HS coaches standpoint, RTW. The opportunities for these coaches to network with each other and with coaches from big-time programs helps tremendously for their own learning and career development. 

+1 HS
chirobuck's picture

So ummm.......what does "tempest in a teapot" mean....god I hope im not the only one who needs that answered

 
^ best post ever ^

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

Happy to oblige. From the gnomes of knowledge at Wikipedia:

Tempest in a teapot (American English), or storm in a teacup (British English), is an idiom meaning a small event that has been exaggerated out of proportion. There are also lesser known or earlier variants, such as tempest in a teacup, storm in a cream bowl, tempest in a glass of water, storm in a wash-hand basin,[1] and storm in a glass of water.

+1 HS
chirobuck's picture

thank you Andy, I'm a little smarter today than I was yesterday

 
^ best post ever ^

+1 HS
hetuck's picture

Notice he didn't visit Alabama. When Trey Depriest's coach from Springfield worked the Alabama camp, he was paid three times as much as any other coach there. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+3 HS
NitroBuck's picture

Damn straight he didn't want to go anywhere near Alabama for this story.  Being a CBS employee, Fowler knows not to bite the hand that feeds him.  The Albert Means case is way too close for comfort.

Ferio.  Tego.

+1 HS
741's picture

This isn't pay - it's basically reimbursement for milage. Boring.

+1 HS
Patrick Maks's picture

Right, much of the money paid to the guest coaches/counselors goes to covering travel/lodging costs, which is noted by Fowler in his more in-depth piece. I think it's fair to say there's potential for abuse, though, and the notion of directly or indirectly paying for influence is worth looking into. Appreciate you reading. 

Fort Seneca Steve's picture

I don't believe it is happening in college football only.  

Before there was Larry Bird, there was "Hondo" John Havilcek! The Pride of Martins Ferry, Ohio!

Jpfbuck's picture

you are correct in fact back in the late 80's UM baseball got in trouble for paying Cincy Moeller's baseball coach to direct recruits there, happens in hoops too

granted most of it is likely above board, but it is subject for obvious abuse as in bidding wars for HS coaches to entice recruits, all that quid pro quo mentality

not really much different from lobbyist in our nations capital,,ie scratch my back I will scratch yours

BlueBayou's picture

It is definitely a system that has potential for abuse, but as long as the money changing hands is transparent, it shouldn't be a problem.  Except....

LSU, Clemson and Oklahoma run their camps through private entities and thus did not provide public records of guest fees to CBSSports.com.

Wait, what's that?  LSU, CLemson, and Oklahoma are running their camps through private entities?  FOI requests don't apply?  This stuck out to me in the article.  What could they be trying to hide?  Really, there could be a good reason for this, but it does give them the added perk of keeping things off the books so to speak.

I guess another question that could come up is, since a lot of times these HS coaches will take their recruits on college visits, since the University would be paying for the coach's travel and expenses to work the camp, can this be used as a potential back door official visit if the coach drives the recruit to the camp?  Maybe the coaches aren't permitted to take the recruits directly with them for this reason.  I'm not sure if they are allowed to or not, but it would make sense if they aren't.

 

 

 

Jbuckham94's picture

That was one of my initial thoughts too. I wonder what they've got going on over there.

Class of 2016. Go Bucks!