Penn State athletic director defends use of satellite camps


HARRISBURG -- Penn State coach James Franklin put the term “satellite camp” into the college football lexicon last year, and Nittany Lions athletic director Sandy Barbour defended the strategy Tuesday morning.

"From my perspective, it’s legal from an NCAA standpoint," she said during the first of 12 stops on Penn State’s Coaches Caravan, a speaking tour of sorts. "It gives our coaches an opportunity to go out and represent our institution, which benefits the institution and certainly benefits us from a recruiting standpoint and from the standpoint of our football program.

"What could be wrong with that?"

According to the ACC and SEC, plenty. Alabama coach Nick Saban recently labeled satellite camps as "ridiculous," and ACC commissioner John Swofford said he’ll continue to "push for a national rule that prohibits it."

Barbour, who took over as athletic director in July, said she understood the push-back.

"The opposition doesn’t surprise me," she said during a news conference at the Best Western in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "You don’t hear the opposition necessarily coming from the conferences that allow it, you hear the opposition coming from the conferences that don’t allow it, and particularly the coaches. And we’ll see if it changes one way or another.

"I think the answer has to be we all can do it or none of us can do it. I think that’s the discourse we’re hearing."

Franklin popularized the practice of satellite camps last season, but it went on around the nation well before his arrival in Happy Valley. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both made headlines in 2013 for doing the same thing.

Franklin will once again attend several satellite camps this year -- at locations such as Georgia Southern and Old Dominion -- and others like Michigan's Jim Harbaugh are following his lead. (Harbaugh even took it a step further by inviting all coaches to U-M's camp.)

The controversial issue could see a resolution in the near future, however. NCAA President Mark Emmert said last month that the football oversight committee will have the topic "on the top of their list."

In the meantime, Penn State doesn’t seem prepared to back down.

"I would not be serving Penn State the right way if I wasn’t doing everything within the NCAA and Big Ten rules to give us a chance to be successful," Franklin told SB Nation last month.