For several years college basketball coaches have complained about the largely unregulated summer camps and tournaments that now serve as the primary showcases for high school talent. They point out that these events, sponsored primarily by shoe companies, have diminished the importance of the high school season and the influence of the high school coach while inflating the power of camp organizers who have no educational ties. Now, an overhaul of the frenetic summer circuit appears at hand.
On Aug. 18, USA Basketball announced plans to organize a series of summer camps for high school players. That prompted the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), which is a member of USA Basketball, to propose to the NCAA that Division I coaches be forbidden to attend any out-of-season events other than those run by accountable institutions: USA Basketball, state high school federations, the National Junior College Athletic Association or FIBA, basketball's international governing body. Players would still be permitted to attend camps and tournaments sponsored by Adidas, Nike, the AAU and other organizations, but without Division I coaches on hand to eyeball the talent, those events would lose much of their appeal to recruits.
USA Basketball's executive committee was to present its summer-camp proposal to its board of directors during meetings in Colorado Springs on Monday and Tuesday. A pilot program for the sanctioned camps could be in place as early as next summer. Not surprisingly, those who have benefited from the wide-open summer circuit aren't embracing change. Says Sonny Vaccaro, who operates the Adidas ABCD camp in Teaneck, N.J., "Who gave them the wisdom to say that we who run summer basketball are the bad people and they're the good people?"
But George Washington coach Mike Jarvis, who is president of the NABC, sees the overhaul as inevitable. "If we don't devise a program that will work for the good of the game, somebody else will do it for us," Jarvis says. "We're the guardians of the game, and it's our responsibility to do this."
A Bad Call
Of all the low moments in the Chicago White Sox' 1997 season, one was particularly disturbing to Doug Rader, the Chicago third base coach who resigned last week. Rader recalls a mid-August home game when Sox vice chairman Eddie Einhorn phoned the dugout from a team box to—we are not making this up—dictate that a Chicago pitcher leave the ball on the mound rather than the infield grass at the end of the inning. Einhorn, a part-owner of the club, had made a small bet with a buddy that that was where the ball would end up. "It was the seventh or eighth inning of a game we're trying to win, and a game we didn't win," Rader told the Chicago Tribune. "But after the game [Einhorn] came down and was laughing about it."
Einhorn was not available for comment, but according to White Sox publicist Scott Reifert, Einhorn "realizes it was inappropriate, and it won't happen again."