Published April 12, 2016
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Commissioner Greg Sankey wants to set the record straight: The issue of satellite camps wasn't the Southeastern Conference vs. Jim Harbaugh.
Sankey told a panel of sports writers and editors Monday that the issue of what he calls ''recruiting tour events'' dates at least to 2011 - well before Harbaugh left the San Francisco 49ers for Michigan.
''We were clear in our perspective but we had two votes out of 15 in the weighted voting system among the Bowl Subdivision,'' Sankey said at a meeting of the Southeast regional meeting of the Associated Press Sports Editors. ''It's not as if we simply controlled the outcome. The ACC and the SEC have been in lockstep on this issue over time, dating back years related to how we're going to conduct football recruiting.
''Obviously it takes more than just the Southeastern Conference to accomplish this change.''
The NCAA's Division I Council shut down the camps last Friday, approving a proposal by the SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference. The issue gained renewed attention last year with Harbaugh's tour of the South for such camps. He already had stops lined up this year in Florida and Alabama - prime SEC recruiting territory even beyond the home state schools.
Sankey and his predecessor, Mike Slive, had both been vocal in their criticism. If the camps weren't banned, they'd made it clear SEC coaches would be freed to hold their own in a not-so veiled threat.
Of the power five conferences, only the Big Ten voted in favor of allowing them.
Penn State coach James Franklin and his staff worked at camps in Florida and Georgia in 2014. Ohio State sent coaches to Florida Atlantic.
Sankey was asked to play a word association game if someone mentions Harbaugh. ''I move on,'' he said. He again tried to diffuse the SEC vs. Harbaugh story line.
''It is unfortunate to me because I tried to explain a timeline,'' Sankey said. ''It's unfortunate that this conversation has become that specific. That's incorrect in understanding the full scope of our discussion about recruiting tours.''
Other matters Sankey discussed:
-SEC men's basketball still isn't measuring up to the league's standards, he said.
The league had three teams make the NCAA Tournament - for the third time in four years. The SEC has hired former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese as a consultant to help find ways to strengthen men's hoops.
''If we can just kind of bottom-line it: We have a greater level of expectation of ourselves than three teams playing in the NCAA Tournament,'' he said, pointing to greater success in sports ranging from women's basketball to baseball, softball and soccer.
He noted Vanderbilt's recent hiring of facility renovations, Vanderbilt's hiring of coach Bryce Drew and the four high-profile coaches who came into the league last year as positives.
-In awarding championship sites, the SEC could weigh the state of Mississippi's recent passage of a law that will let workers cite religious beliefs to deny services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.
The league didn't take South Carolina, Mississippi or Mississippi State out of the rotation for championships held on campuses over the Confederate flag issue. Sankey said that when the SEC makes ''decisions about championship sites, we'll take into account a variety of issues and state issues like the state flag issue in the past. And this is one that is now emerging that would be part of that conversation as well.''