Want to see summer basketball coaches squirm?
Just pepper them about Elite Camps.
Once you do it, the same guys who will gladly spend hours telling you how they have the next Michael Beasley will grow more uncomfortable than Mark McGwire on Capitol Hill. That's what the topic of Elite Camps seems to do to most people. It makes them nervous. And for good reason.
|Michigan's John Beilein says he is unfamiliar with the Elite Camps practice. (Getty Images)|
It's an on-campus event run by a college program, usually reserved for about the best 10 or 20 prospects that particular program is recruiting. More to the point, it's a fine way for a school to exploit a loophole in the NCAA rulebook and funnel money to summer coaches who in turn use some of that money to pay for their best prospects to attend the Elite Camp of the school supplying the money. Schools are essentially paying summer coaches to gain influence and get prospects on campus in an unofficial capacity.
Right, John Beilein?
"I'm naive to that and how it happens," said the Michigan coach. "But people say it apparently happens."
Oh yes, Coach Beilein, it absolutely happens.
It's the scam of all scams.
Here's how it works: Let's pretend State U is recruiting two prospects from an AAU team in California, a couple of high-level prospects capable of someday winning a league title. Now let's pretend I'm the coach of that AAU team. What State U would do is hire me to be a "counselor" or "speaker" at its Elite Camp. My pay might be $2,500 and my job might be to talk about free throw shooting for, say, 30 minutes one afternoon. That's it. It's a great gig.
But the implied tradeoff is that I must use some of the money I'm receiving to pay for the flights of my two prospects so they can attend the Elite Camp because how else could they possibly afford to fly across the country in the middle of June?
And that's pretty much the deal.
It's a three-step process: