Posted on: May 24, 2011 1:36 am

Big Ten coaches worry over AAU-type 'nightmare'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's long been a given that as big an ethical and regulatory minefield as college football recruiting is, it could be worse; it could be college basketball recruiting, an area frequently viewed as a sleaze-filled maze of AAU coaches, shoe representatives, and assorted other hangers-on all looking for their own say in their chosen recruit's recruitment.

So it's no surprise that, as the Omaha World-Herald reports, the Big Ten is looking to stem the tide of similar issues in football that might arise out of 7-on-7 tournaments:

“This is an issue that isn't very visible to the general public,'' Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “But it was the biggest concern that came out of our coaches meeting.

“Everyone is starting to see some of the nightmares that have gone on with AAU basketball. As coaches, we want to prevent going down that road in football ... As a conference, we want to take the lead in doing so... it's a pretty complicated issue on how to get it done. But we're all pretty unified that that's what we want to see happen.''

Penn State coach Joe Paterno said he'll do what he can to help.

“There are ‘in-between' people getting involved in starting 7-on-7 camps,'' Paterno said, “and they are literally putting kids up on auction blocks so people can get a look at them.

“And there are guys who are soliciting kids to go to a camp and getting paid to bring certain kids to camps. You don't want those people involved in our game.''

Pelini wasn't the only Big Ten representative to raise the specter of AAU hoops when discussing college football's problems. In fact, he wasn't even the only official from Nebraska to do so:

“I don't know that any legislation has been passed to keep anyone from doing it,'' Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne said.

“Paying attention to it is about all we can do right now. But it looks like it could turn into AAU basketball all over again.''

Clearly, the league's football coaches and administrators are not fans of the Amateur Athletic Union's basketball efforts.

But then again, who in college athletics is? While Jim Delany's efforts in the arena of "full cost of attendance" scholarships will likely meet with some resistance, if his conference can find a way to legislate college football away from big-time basketball's recruiting morass, no one will have an unkind word to say about that.

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