The Schmidt brothers, Harv and Roy, a couple of independent basketball recruiting analysts who have been fixtures in high school gyms in Illinois and across the country for more than 25 years and operate their own web site, Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye, have a lot of war stories to tell when it comes to doing their job and being competitive in a very competitive market.
At one summer event, the Schmidts were charged $250 for a coach's packet containing names and numbers of the participants. The figure was cheap compared to the $600 and $400 fees that coaches were charged for admission to events in Las Vegas and elsewhere. Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings showed up to see one recruit in one game, refused to pay $400 for the pleasure and walked out.
But it gets worse. And the Schmidts blame the NCAA for creating the problem.
"The NCAA regulations regarding scouting services are a joke," Roy Schmidt said. "We can no longer go to any July event and talk to college coaches who are watching a game. In fact, we are not even allowed to sit with them.
"The NCAA has this notion that scouting services are all facades for AAU coaches and programs and all of them are potential steering agents for recruits and prospects. Thus, because college coaches cannot talk to players or parents during this time (they can only evaluate), the NCAA does not want coaches talking to scouting services."
The Schmidts and most other local and national recruiting analysts, including Joe Henricksen of City/Suburban Hoops Report, Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports and Van Coleman of Hoopmasters.com, believe the NCAA "has no clue" about the hard-working, independent scouting services with no affiliations to AAU programs or shoe companies and, consequently, have no vested interest in influencing prospects to any college.
The system is flawed and it could be remedied. For example, in Orlando and Las Vegas, the media was handed rosters that didn't even include such basic information as high school and graduating class.
College coaches can't see everyone. Even recruiting analysts can't see everyone. Bob Gibbons, a pioneer among recruiting analysts, stopped going to Las Vegas because there were too many players competing at the same time, making it impossible to make comprehensive evaluations, the kind that college coaches rely on.
"College coaches talk to scouting services such as ours because they can't see everyone," Roy Schmidt said. "They rely on opinions such as ours to get objective evaluations as to the level projected for prospects. Or else they have to go strictly on the word of an AAU coach, high school coach or a parent who could be extremely biased. We know that many desparate programs, especialy at the lower or mid-major levels, offer scholarships without the head coach ever seeing the prospect play. This is wrong."
Internet sites create problems for the entire recruiting process. Some sites that are affiliated with certain colleges put twists on stories to boost their program or try to influence a recruit by printing negative rumors regarding evaluations, commitments or scholarship offers.
The business has gone out of control to the point where these sites attend major events under the guise of "talent scouts" and do nothing more than video and interview players that their favored program has targeted.
"They ask lead-in questions about the level of interest that a recruit has in their program," Roy Schmidt said. "If the recruit sounds disinterested, a question will be phrased in such a way like: 'Well, you really like the program, don't you? You plan on visiting the school, don't you?' Or they will ask a question such as: 'You are aware that program is likely to get a commitment soon from another player. That will affect their recruitment of you, won't it?' In many cases, the kid will tell the Internet site exactly what he wants to hear."
Finally, the Schmidts observed an event in which one of the directors accepted credit card payments in advance for the coach's packet on a web site, a clearcut violation of NCAA rules if the money went to the web site. Who knows where the money went? Who knows who is running the asylum?