Before NCAA ban, Harbaugh taking Michigan to Rome, Italy
Just days after an NCAA vote to ban team trips that combine spring break and spring football, Michigan announced Monday that the Wolverines' next getaway is its most exotic yet: Italy.
The Wolverines will hold three spring practices at the training facility of Italian league soccer club Roma in Rome. Coach Jim Harbaugh is taking his team in April, too, instead of during spring break.
''I am excited that our student-athletes will be able to take advantage of this amazing educational opportunity, be exposed to another culture and be ambassadors for the United States and the University of Michigan during our visit to Rome,'' Harbaugh said in a statement.
Michigan held part of its spring practice last year at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, during the university's spring break. The road show drew the ire of the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Power Five conferences last week voted to ban off-campus trips for practice during any vacation period outside a sport's season. The conferences also voted to put in place several other measures to give athletes more time away from their sports during and after the season. The new NCAA rules go into effect in August.
Michigan did not announce on Monday the exact dates of the trip, but said in a release it would take place ''after finals toward the end of winter semester in April.'' Spring break at Michigan starts Feb. 25. Classes end April 18 and study days and finals run from April 19-27.
The school said the team will visit landmarks, meet U.S. military personnel and spend time at an orphanage during the trip. Michigan will also hold a scrimmage that will be open to the public.
''Over the past few decades student-athletes in other sports have had the opportunity to participate in international training trips to practice and prepare for the upcoming season,'' Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement. ''This is a tremendous opportunity for these young men to learn about and experience another culture, connect with the people of Italy, and showcase American football internationally. The University of Michigan has always encouraged our students to gain knowledge through international experiences and we are so glad to provide them with this opportunity.''
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