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NCAA Tosses Lifeline to Football Academies

Throughout the last year or so, football academies have taken a bit of a beating from the NCAA. These academies are essentially schools that have been set up around a football team, some of which have attracted all-star type teams of prospects. The school portion of the academy is often an online curriculum purchased from a vendor. Eastern Christian Academy is the most well-known.

The NCAA troubles stem from the association determining that these teams, despite being attached to a school in some form or fashion, are nonscholastic teams. That ruling is on the fact that these teams are governed “under the auspices of a scholastic governing body.” That are independents, often seeking to play a national schedule against other elite teams. But the nonscholastic designations put into doubt whether coaches are able to attend their games and evaluate prospects on the team.

An Education Column released yesterday clarifies that coaches may evaluate prospects at the games of football or basketball academies, on one condition:

Question No. 5: Is it permissible to evaluate at an event that includes a nonscholastic team competing against a scholastic team?

Answer: Yes, however, it would not be permissible to evaluate a prospective student-athlete that is on a nonscholastic team during a competition with another nonscholastic team, unless such competition occurs during a certified event.

Division I coaches in football and basketball are still not permitted to attend and evaluate at practices conducted by these teams. But this solves two big hurdles when it comes to attracting players (who will still be able to be seen by college coaches) and scheduling (since opposing high school teams can still have college coaches at games vs. an “academy” team).

Correction: Findlay Prep is not covered by this interp since Findlay Prep is now recognized by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.

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