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DAVIS: NCAA needs to evaluate its recruiting ethics
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The occurrence of the ridiculous fosters my love/hate relationship with sports.

A recent decree has pushed that emotional juxtaposition a little more toward hate.

This past week the NCAA Legislative Council deemed that seventh grade boys basketball players now fall under the category of college prospects.

I’m still unsure as to whether my leaning toward loathing is a result of the preposterous nature of such a ruling, or that it doesn’t also include girls.

According to the Associated Press report, the organization changed the definition of a prospect from ninth to seventh grade in order to regulate "private elite camps and clinics for seventh- and eighth-graders. The NCAA couldn’t regulate those camps because those youngsters" – operative word being youngsters – "fell below the current cutoff."

That alone is ridiculous; but the reasoning pushes it over the top.

"Schools had expressed concern that the younger-age elite camps were giving participating coaches a recruiting advantage, pressuring other coaches to start their own camps," the report said.

So, hypothetically speaking, Bobby Knight works a camp for middle schoolers put on by famed Virginia AAU basketball coach Boo Williams and sees a child who he thinks has potential.

Knight says, "Hey kid, I think you’ve got potential," and a dialogue starts in which Knight also adds, "Maybe you can play for me one day."

Barring a loss of interest in the sport or injury and assuming the child lives up to his said potential, six years later signing day arrives. And if he lived up to the type of potential Knight thinks is praise-worthy, it would mean he got several offers from other high-profile schools. But for the sake of argument, say he didn’t find a school that better fit his needs as an 18-year-old and stuck with the coach who said he was a 12-year-old with potential.

Sound convoluted? That’s because it is.

Bottom line is this: A coach somewhere got a beat on a child somewhere who he heard had potential. This coach sought after the child because, at the time, the regulations were such that anybody under ninth grade could be contacted at any time. Upon contacting the child, the coach was told other coaches at camps had thought the boy had potential too, and said so.

The coach somewhere whined to the NCAA, and as a result, at least as I see it, 12-year-olds are now fair game.

Some might say the ruling means that seventh graders are off limits, that it inhibits college coaches’ ability to harass. I say it makes them fair game.

Imagine being in seventh grade and getting a college brochure when you haven’t even played a junior varsity basketball game, much less played with the big boys on varsity.

Imagine being in seventh grade and getting a call from the coach of your favorite college team. Not for your birthday or as a special treat for making good grades, but because he wants you to work hard enough to be able to go to his school in six years.

Does the word pressure mean anything to these people?

Yes, there may be a seventh grader, a 12-year-old, who loves playing basketball and therefore excels at it. He might have dreams of attending college on a scholarship and goes to a court daily to do just that, dream.

Does someone now need to be there making him shoot 100 free throws, 100 3-pointers or timing his 40-yard dash and lane slides?

Why, so soon, does pressure have to play a part? What’s the harm in letting a child be a child?

At least for two more years.

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