Say the words “unofficial visit” to Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and you might be in for a long conversation on what is wrong with the recruiting process.
Meyer isn’t against them per se, as he’s picked up his fair share of commitments from unofficial visits. He just doesn’t like the dent they put in the wallets of families with prospective athletes.
Athletes have to pay for unofficial visits themselves as the NCAA allows only five official visits -- paid for by the institution -- during the athlete’s senior year.
“It is one of the problems I have now with collegiate athletics,” Meyer told WolverineNation’s Michael Rothstein when he was at The Sound Mind Sound Body Academy camp in Detroit in June. “It’s almost anti-student-athlete where they have to come to us for camp. How many kids can afford to fly or drive that far? This is so unusual. I can’t believe we’re allowed to do this [the camp].”
Don’t get Meyer wrong: He uses unofficial visits as a recruiting tool as much as any college coach does. In June, Ohio State held a handful of football camps to athletes of various ages to bring students onto campus. Because NCAA regulations minimize contact in the summer months to visiting with the coach on college campuses, the camps are a big hit.
In June and July, Meyer and the Buckeyes received five commitments and were in the ears of many more when they held their first Friday Night Lights camp July 27.
At Friday Night Lights, Meyer brought in several of the program's NFL alumni such as Michael Doss, LeCharles Bentley, Orlando Pace and Joey Galloway as coaches helping out at the camp, working with position groups and talking about their experiences to the group.
It’s not a matter of if the Buckeyes can get an athlete to make an unofficial visit, with the various camps as a carrot to dangle in front of the prospective players -- not to mention Meyer’s national star power -- it’s a matter of when as each camp brings more and more athletes.
But the bottom line for Meyer is the cost.
“There has to be easier ways for a student-athlete to do it the right way and go visit a campus,” Meyer said. “I’m sure right now they are doing the best they can to evaluate that.
“Because if the bottom line is thinking about the student-athlete first as opposed to anything else, you’ll see things like this and camps open up for coaches to work with them.”