SEC Peeved With Jim Harbaugh Treading on its Recruiting TerritoryBy Russell Westerholm, UniversityHerald Reporter
Not long after Jim Harbaugh announced he would take the Michigan football team to Florida for spring break, the SEC is calling for the NCAA to starting taking free time in collegiate athletics more seriously.
Speaking with CBS Sports, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey stressed the importance of student-athletes' time away from their respective sport. Sankey argued taking away student-athletes' spring break for a remote football camp is counterintuitive to the NCAA's efforts to emphasize a student-first approach to athletics.
"Our primary reaction [is] that, in the face of the time-demand conversations, we've got one program taking what has been 'free time' away," he said. "Let's draw a line and say, 'That's not appropriate.'"
Sankey's underlying motivation may well be that several of the conference's coaches have complained about outsiders hosting remote camps in the SEC's backyard. Harbaugh, in particular, has not just held Michigan camps in several southern states, but he has made headlines doing so.
Last week he announced he was not only bringing his football team to Florida, but to one of the country's premier high schools for football recruits, the IMG Academy. Harbaugh told ESPN the winter retreat was meant to be a bonding experience for his team, but also that he would be holding his first spring practices.
Citing an unnamed "high-ranking source," CBS Sports reported the NCAA's rules do not prohibit Harbaugh's trip this year, though that is likely to change.
According to Inside Higher Ed, the NCAA is taking a serious look at time management for student athletes. However, all discussions for potential policies were put on hold at the recent NCAA Convention.
The Pac-12, one of the NCAA's Power 5 Conferences, published a study that suggested its student-athletes essentially devote a full-time job's worth of time to their sports. The study then found this was causing adverse effects on studying, which goes against the NCAA's model of amateurism.
The NCAA appears primed to implement a policy at some point soon, but probably not in time for the next season of college football.