Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines took a Spring Break trip to Florida in 2016 and that visit included practice time at IMG Academy. In 2017, though, that voyage will not be allowed under NCAA rules, as the organization passed a rule change that would ban such behavior.
Dan Wolken of USA Today brings word of the specifics:
As part of a package of new rules designed to create more off time for college athletes, the new rule prohibiting off-campus practice during a vacation period outside of a playing season passed 58-20 after a vigorous debate with a majority in all five conferences, though the athlete representatives voted against it 11-4.
Many jumped immediately to the fact that the SEC’s complaints about Harbaugh and company impeding on their territory had something to do with the sudden push to change the rule. On cue, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel shared his thoughts, after arguing that the current rules should remain.
“The rule didn’t get proposed until after we took the football team down to Florida for spring break, so I think you can read into that as you will. I wasn’t surprised by the vote, but what I think we all need to look at it is the students voted (11-4) to defeat the proposal so the various students we’re trying to serve, the voice of the students, I think spoke clearly that they would enjoy the opportunity to experience and be able to train off campus during their breaks.”
There is, of course, nothing explicit about the rule change that indicates any impetus from the SEC and the motion passed quite comfortably. With that said, Michigan is the one program that will be affected most by the alteration and critics of the SEC will undoubtedly attribute that fallout to the conference.
It will be interesting to see Michigan’s overall response (potentially even another loophole exploitation) but, for now, the Wolverines won’t be spending any time in Florida during the spring.