Camp Rantoul has been an Illinois football tradition for years. Every fall, the entire team packs up and heads to Rantoul for a week of intensive practices to get ready for the upcoming season. Today, however, that tradition changed. Head coach Lovie Smith and AD Josh Whitman have decided that the annual Camp Rantoul will no longer be held:
Illinois football announces its ditching Camp Rantoul this year, will hold all fall training camp practices on campus instead— Bret Beherns (@WCIA3Bret) April 15, 2016
This announcement was met with mixed emotions, as several Illini media members expressed their sorrow in seeing the camp cancelled:
It's like telling train guy he can't go see the trains anymore.— Robert (@ALionEye) April 15, 2016
There was some confusion earlier this month when the NCAA announced that it would ban any satellite camps, but apparently this move had nothing to do with that jurisdiction.
This decison doesn't affect Rantoul or off-campus training camp endeavors that many schools use. #dechr https://t.co/b1JtULc6RJ— Mark Tupper (@MarkTupper) April 8, 2016
No. That's just recruit camps https://t.co/uohwmsF1OS— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) April 15, 2016
Here's a snippet of the statement from Whitman:
We make today's announcement with mixed emotions. I was a member of the first Illinois team to experience Camp Rantoul. Our needs as a football program, however, have continued to evolve, and at this point in time, we feel that staying on campus will give our student-athletes the best chance to prepare for a successful 2016 season. We look forward to maintaining the openness that has been a hallmark of Camp Rantoul while creating an even more exciting and accessible experience for our fans.
Obviously changing what has been one of the most consistent pieces to the Illinois football program is risky, but Lovie Smith knows what he's doing. If the program believes that practicing on campus is the best way to go, then fans will just have to take their word for it. After all the distractions that have surrounded the Fighting Illini in the past calendar year, this will hopefully be a good move to limit the number of outside disturbances while the team prepares for the 2016-17 season.