The NCAA has focused on limiting the influence coaches at top AAU basketball teams have in the college recruiting process in recent years, and they are continuing to crack down on the issue due to athlete eligibility issues.
Playing on a club or AAU team is a key part of the recruiting process; they allow athletes a chance to play at a higher level of competition than most high school leagues offer, and it lets them get out and play in tournaments in front of numerous college coaches. This added experience and playing time often gives basketball players who choose to play on an AAU team a big advantage over those that only play for their high school teams.
AAU teams present a problem for the NCAA though because the power and influence the coaches have. Sports agents and financial advisers are also becoming involved in funding AAU teams, which they can do anonymously because of the non-profit status of many teams. AAU coaches are then expected to steer top players towards agents and advisers they have a relationship with.
College coaches are also often forced to deal with AAU coaches when they want to recruit an athlete, which increases third parties’ influence in the recruiting process. Some AAU coaches have even landed jobs as assistants at college programs, with the hopes of landing a certain recruit. College football programs have also experienced this, with teams offering assistant positions to high school coaches.
Make Sure You don’t Lose Eligibility Because of Your AAU Team Affiliations
The NCAA has banned AAU teams, and continued to investigate others. The NCAA’s intent is to locate the teams that are placing student-athletes’ eligibility in question. Even if you join a team without knowingly committing violations, the NCAA can still hold you accountable and reduce your eligibility( initially, you get five years of eligibility in which you can compete in four).
The only way to find out if your team is following the rules is to talk to your coach and learn more about the history of the team. AAU teams will immensely help your chances of being recruited, but make sure they aren’t also the reason you lose eligibility.