One of the under-the-radar issues still bubbling along in the NCAA is Proposal 2009–100-A. The proposal (2009–100 for simplicity’s sake, the “B” version is long gone) bans Division I institutions from hosting most nonscholastic boys basketball competitions and camps. The proposal, which was adopted last year, is currently receiving comment from each individual member school, after which the schools will vote. A five-eighths majority is required to overturn the new rule.
The rule got more public over the last couple of weeks when more people learned how far the definition of “nonscholastic” actually stretched. A number of events, like this one, had to be moved from Division I arenas. While they were between high school teams, they were sponsored by nonscholastic organizations, like visitors bureaus and event promoters. The reason the ban extends so far is to both prevent third parties (whoever they may be) from turning into event promoters to cash in from a college recruiting their prospects, and so Division I schools are not contributing directly to having even more basketball games during the high school season.
Banning these events, many of which have been around for a long time and are completely on the up-and-up, is seen by many as an example of the type of regulation that the NCAA needs to get rid of. “Deregulation” is a common cry. Why waste time on who holds an event in the school’s arena, the argument goes, when there are more pressing issues.
The reason is that Proposal 2009–100 is trying to save compliance offices time rather than increasing their burden. When the Division I Board of Directors issued its interpretation back in October 2009, the Board touched specifically on boys basketball camps:
It is not permissible for a men’s basketball staff member or a representative of the institution’s athletics interests to be involved in any way in the operation or planning of a men’s basketball nonscholastic event on its campus.
If Proposal 2009–100 survives, monitoring boys basketball events on campus is relatively easy. Who are the teams and who is sponsoring the event? If 2009–100 is ultimately defeated, the monitoring burden goes up significantly since an institution might be called on to prove that their men’s basketball staff was not involved in setting up an AAU tournament on campus. That might mean practices like monitoring phone records and email of coaches to look for communication with event operators, or ensuring that only certain people in the athletic department or university are involved with setting up the event. Pricing and amenities offered to these events may also have to be monitored.
A lot of the deregulation talk recently has focused on removing things from the Division I Manual that are not worth worrying about. But there’s a flip side to “deregulation” that should be seriously considered. Some activities require so much monitoring to be done fairly and ethically that they are not worth the benefit. In that case, it is in the interest of deregulation to ban Division I institutions from wasting their time with the activity so they can focus on more important things.
Do AAU basketball events on campus fall into that category? Enough of Division I thought so at one point to pass the rule, but it remains to be seen if they still feel that way. NIRSA, the National Intramural-Recreation Sport Association certainly feels the extra trouble is worth it, given the significant revenue that recreational sport departments see from AAU events. “Saving people from themselves” is always a tricky proposition. But that does not mean there is only one way to focus athletic departments on what is important.
The opinions expressed on this blog are the author’s and the author’s alone, and are not endorsed by the NCAA or any NCAA member institution or conference. This blog is not a substitute for a compliance office.