Conventional wisdom says that the NCAA applies the same rules to every sport, even to the revenue sports of football and men’s basketball. Slightly less convention wisdom is that the NCAA treats football and men’s basketball different from other sports, but often very similar. While the latter is closer to the truth, there are cases where football and basketball are regulated much differently.
Typically, football is more tightly regulated than basketball. The best examples are the less flexible football recruiting rules and regimented start to the football practice season. But every so often, basketball is locked down in a way that football is not. College coaches working with club teams involving prospects was one. Basketball coaches are banned from working with AAU teams, but football coaches could be involved in any capacity with 7-on–7 teams. That loophole was supposed to be closed in 2012, but the proposal was tabled due to the Presidential Retreat.
The continued rise in popularity of 7-on–7 and America’s thirst for any sort of football creates an opportunity for football to do something basketball is prohibited or restricted from doing: televised, revenue producing summer leagues for current student-athletes.
I poo-poo’d Tony Gerdeman’s idea for a full-contact, junior varsity spring football season. But a summer 7-on–7 league is a much smaller investment, much safer for players, and could be a success at a smaller scale than a second full football season.
This is mostly because football is not saddled with the regulations that are imposed on summer basketball. The NCAA does not need to certify summer football leagues. There are no geographic limitations on where players can play, or how many teams or leagues they can be on. More importantly, operators of the leagues would not restricted in how they could realize revenue like summer basketball leagues.
The only rules are that the leagues would have to be outside the academic year, the leagues would have to be completely amateur leagues, and no more than five players from any one school could be on a team. Those five players do not include incoming recruits who have not yet enrolled, so it is an excellent opportunity for a veteran quarterback to start working with the incoming freshmen that were not around for spring ball.
Given the dearth of programming for sports networks in the summer, one would think that a July summer 7-on–7 league would be a very attractive proposition. The fact that it neatly sidesteps many of the same obstacles to other spring/summer football proposals makes it that much easier to get started.