A controversial proposal to ban summer basketball recruiting could have an adverse affect on the Nike Peach Jam.
North Augusta's annual exhibition of the premier high school players in the nation draws hundreds of college coaches. With a majority of the country's top 100 prep stars confined to four courts at Riverview Park, a virtual Who's Who of coaches congregate to evaluate the smorgasbord of talent.
Southeastern Conference commissioner Roy Kramer believes recruiting-related violations could be curtailed by declaring summer a dead period. The man responsible for the Bowl Championship Series voiced his opinion at the NCAA's annual convention Monday in San Diego.
The 4-year-old Peach Jam consisted of 30 teams and was attended by more than 700 college coaches in July 1999. Reactions to Kramer's concerns were mixed among coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Most coaches agreed the proliferation of unscrupulous summer-league sponsors was detrimental to everyone involved. However, several sided with Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins, who said he would veto the proposed ban but favors limiting the number of tournaments coaches could attend.
"We felt it would be unfair," Cremins said. "How would we be able to evaluate? We do need an evaluation period, particularly with early signing."
Although no formal vote has been set, a proposal has been made to the NCAA's board of directors to reduce the number of summer recruiting days from 24 to 14. Augusta State coach Gary Tuell said Division II schools wouldn't be affected by the proposed changes but would expect the NCAA to increase the in-season "evaluation" period, currently 40 days spanning Nov. 18 to March 15 in Division I.
Tuell also predicted a decline in the number of blue-chip prospects who would participate in camps that would not increase their collegiate stock. While coaches are forbidden from interacting with players in the summer, their presence in the stands is noticed.
"How many kids would want to spend their summer traveling around?" Tuell asked. "One of the reasons they do it is for the exposure."
Nike representative Ed Myers deflected the notion that non-academic coaches are the root of corruption among impressionable recruits. Funneling gifts to high-profile athletes by influential sponsors has been a problem and cost some players eligibility.
"That was happening before AAU teams existed," Myers said. "Every time they try to fix college basketball, they set it 10 years back."
Virginia coach Pete Gillen remains wary of some summer tournament coaching personnel. He isn't opposed to dissolving summer recruiting.
"I would like to see them ban it," Gillen said. "The more we can get the high school coaches back in, the better it will be."
Myers also insisted the players' desire to face formidable opponents won't diminish.
"They're going to play to improve their skills," Myers said. "The kids will want to play against each other."
Eliminating the summer recruiting period would prevent college coaches from watching many of the top junior prospects battling one another.
"I would hate to see that," said Wake Forest coach Dave Odom. "In the summer is when the coaches do their best recruiting. You can see the kids in a relaxed setting against the best players in the country."
Reach Jimmy DeButts at (706) 823-3221