Harbaugh, Michigan spend extravagantly on spring break trip to Florida

Michigan spent $348,553 on its trip for spring break football practices at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, according to information the university provided Friday to CBS Sports from an open-records request.

Jim Harbaugh took the Wolverines to IMG Academy for a week in early March, drawing criticism from SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and some SEC coaches. The practices were widely viewed as a recruiting trip to brand Michigan in a new geographic location, although many Michigan players said publicly they enjoyed the vacation.

Michigan spent $146,912 for the IMG training facility visit, which included facility rentals, housing and meals. Other costs included $107,148 for airfare, $51,395 for ground transportation, $39,519 for meals and per diem, and $3,580 for unspecified other expenses. Michigan practiced for four days and had one off day.

To put the costs in perspective, Michigan's IMG trip was more than the 2014-15 operating game-day expenses for 13 University of Michigan teams, according to the university's financial report submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. Michigan generated $152.5 million in total revenue during 2014-15 -- good enough for fourth highest in the country -- according to USA Today Sports.

Michigan's spring break trip was considerably cheaper than what College Football Playoff teams spend to travel to the semifinal and championship games. Michigan flew commercial to Florida, unlike chartered trips for playoff games.

The Pac-12 recently proposed a rule that would prohibit any practices during a university's vacation period when the sport is out of season or the spring practice period for football. Harbaugh has said he recommends doing the trip again.

"As a coach, I feel really good about it," he said in March, according to the Detroit Free Press. "I feel really good about what we accomplished here. On the level of player development, I feel also really good about the way we came together more as a team. ... We even have some thoughts on doing this again for next year and how we can make it even better."

If the NCAA doesn't ban such practices in the future, it's not clear whether other schools will attempt to copy Harbaugh with spring break practices on the road. SEC coaches are now doing that with satellite camps.

"I think everybody's gotta make decisions that they feel are best for what they need to do in their program," Alabama coach Nick Saban said on the Dan Patrick Show in March. "I don't think when people designed the rules they'd didn't design the rules to take your team someplace else and have spring practice during spring break. But there's a lot of good people and a lot of good places and the NCAA will decide whether that's something that we should or shouldn't do. ... We love having spring practice right here at Alabama."

Harbaugh said in March he doesn't deserve credit for the idea because Cornell's swim coach in 1938 started the phenomenon of taking teams to Florida over spring break.

"I think my favorite (criticism) so far is the comment that this is a circus, like a big circus," Harbaugh said. "This and they also referenced the Signing of the Stars. ... Every circus that I ever went to, I always left feeling really great about it and it was a lot of fun. And that's how I feel about this. It was most anticipated and it was a heck of a lot of fun."

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Jim Harbaugh spared no expense in Florida. USATSI
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jon Solomon is CBS Sports's national college football writer. A former Alabama resident, he now lives in Maryland and also writes extensively on NCAA topics. Jon previously worked at The Birmingham News,... Full Bio

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