June 7, 2013 Updated: June 7, 2013 at 5:55 pm
USA Basketball is starting a program that would set national standards for coaching and officiating clinics and youth development camps.
The Colorado Springs-based organization took its first step in January when it took over ihoops.com, an instructional website for coaches, officials and players launched in 2008 as a joint venture of the NBA and NCAA.
The need for a national standard was identified more than 15 years ago, USA Basketball executive director Jim Tooley said.
The youth division is in its infancy, he stressed. The number of new employees, beyond a division head, remains undecided along with the structure of the program.
"We will be adding some staff but we are a long way from determining our needs," Tooley said. "We are still figuring out the best way to set this up."
No launch date is set for the division, which would be based at USA Basketball headquarters at 5465 Mark Dabling Blvd.
Setting a national accreditation system for camps and clinics stressing fundamentals is critical, Tooley said.
"Basketball is very popular in this country, which is good," he said. "It can also be a challenge because there are so many camps. We want to provide some guidance."
Tooley said the many camps focused on fundamentals would not be affected.
Accreditation will help parents make the right choices, he added, and let them know they are sending their child to a safe environment.
"If the coaches are certified, it adds a comfort level," he said. "If they are not, hopefully parents weigh that in their decision."
How money would be raised for the new division is undetermined along with prices.
Tooley said it was too early to outline a regional camp structure or if the organization would organize national camps at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
A proposed new complex in Colorado Springs or elsewhere with more gym access would fit into the "grass-roots" development plan, Tooley said.