June has long represented the start of a busy stretch for high school and summer coaches -- especially ones with legitimate prospects -- because it's when the NCAA allows member institutions to hold camps and hire people to work those camps. A coach with a great prospect could make $10,000 to $15,000 working summer camps, easily, which is precisely why the NCAA adopted rules to alter the landscape and cut down on sketchy recruiting.
Schools can still hire whomever they like. But if an "individual associated with a prospect" is hired by a school, that school is no longer allowed to recruit prospects associated with said individual. Consequently, hundreds of high school and summer coaches associated with prospects will have a difficult time finding work this summer while colleges try to discover a more creative way to funnel money to people of influence.
|Former prep coach Josh Daeche worked his way through summer camps to a job at Memphis. (Provided to CBSSports.com)|
Watching men spend parts of June, July and August working camp after camp for check after check was beyond ridiculous, particularly when some high school and summer coaches were paid thousands of dollars to do nothing more than talk for 15 minutes. They were hired as guest or motivational speakers, naturally.
"We hired a high school coach [connected to a prospect] one time to speak to campers about free throw shooting," said a high-major coach who spoke to CBSSports.com on the condition of anonymity. "He stood there for 20 minutes, and his whole message was that you just had to have some balls. He was telling them, 'You've got to have some balls about you. You just need big balls. Have some balls.' It was the funniest thing you've ever seen, and the campers were looking at him like he was crazy. But we had to hire him to stay involved with his player."
So, yeah, I like any rule that stops that from happening. But, as is the case with most rules, there is collateral damage, which brings me to the story of Josh Daeche, the 32-year-old who spent five summers working summer camps while hoping to break into college coaching. Daeche graduated from Penn State in 2002 with a degree in journalism having never played high school or college basketball. He wrote articles for small newspapers at $50 a pop, did some concrete work on the side to fill the time. It was all leading to nothing, and Daeche recognized it, so he decided to chase his passion.
Former Penn State associate athletics director Robert Krimmel was among those Daeche asked for advice.
"He told me it would be difficult because I wasn't a former player and I didn't have connections," Daeche recalled. "He was right."
With no natural inroads, Daeche did the only thing he knew to do: Apply to work as many summer camps as possible. If he got paid, great. But he would be willing to volunteer in an attempt to build a résumé, willing to come out of his own pocket to travel if it might help him land a job. So that's what he did. Daeche worked summer camps, networked, built a résumé, and it helped him land a job as an assistant at Notre Dame Prep, where he basically drove the van, cooked and mopped floors. There was nothing glamorous about the job, including the pay. But he did the job as well as he could do it, then spent every June, July and August working more college camps.
Nothing was too small.
Daeche worked camps at Syracuse and Villanova, Saint Joseph's and San Diego, Providence and Southern California, and though he was technically an "individual associated with a prospect" because he worked at Notre Dame Prep, he was never a "person of influence" who garnered big paychecks. "I'd buy a $400 ticket to Los Angeles to work the USC camp, then get a $240 check from USC," said Daeche, who left Notre Dame Prep after three years to take a similar job at the Patterson School. "It cost me money to work a lot of the camps."
Daeche has a story about organizing a camp until 6:30 a.m. one night, then asking the front desk for a 7:07 a.m. wakeup call so that he could sleep for 15 minutes, take a shower and be back in the gym for registration at 7:30 a.m. He has a story about helping move boxes at a Reebok event all afternoon so that Reebok officials might think about letting him volunteer the next day. He has a story about driving all night to get from one camp to another, and praying that if he fell asleep and crashed it would be a one-car accident.
"I worked 65 camps," Daeche said. "I worked 65 camps before I got the job at Memphis."
That happened last summer.
Josh Pastner hired Josh Daeche to be his video coordinator.
"It was magical," Daeche said, the excitement still present in his voice. "My parents, who have been through heaven and hell with me trying to get a job for six or seven years, were printing off a story on the Internet about me getting hired, and they're running around showing it to the neighbors who are outside on the lawnmowers cutting their grass. They're like, 'Look! He's hired! He's hired!' It was magical."
Sweet story, huh?
Daeche got into the business for the right reasons, and Pastner -- who has never signed a prospect connected to Daeche in any way -- hired him for the right reasons, specifically because he recognized an impressive work ethic. In fact, when Pastner hired Daeche he didn't even know what job to give him. He just knew he wanted him in the program. They settled on video coordinator months later. The one-year anniversary of that date is approaching.
I tell that story to tell you that story is no longer possible.
The next Josh Daeche is screwed.
That's the byproduct of the new NCAA rule.
A smart college coach will no longer hire somebody from a prep school to work camps because doing so would eliminate the opportunity to recruit from that prep school. So if Daeche was still at a prep school, his dream of breaking into the college game would probably be over because he'd no longer be able to show his work ethic for pennies while working summer camps, which is what helped land him the job at Memphis.
"I got lucky," Daeche said. "If I wouldn't have got the job last year, I'm not sure what I would've done."
So that's the good and the bad of this rule. The good is that high school and summer coaches connected to McDonald's All-Americans won't be funneled thousands of dollars to explain to campers that it takes "big balls" to shoot free throws, but the bad is that those who truly used summer camps as pseudo-internships to learn and network are out of luck. In fairness to the NCAA, the good probably outweighs the bad; that's why I like the rule. But there is some bad to the rule, and that bad is what will keep some good people from breaking into the sport.
"There were a lot of people working camps for the right reasons," Daeche said. "I feel sorry for them."