Introducing the "Jim Harbaugh Rule." Michigan will no longer be allowed to hold spring break practices in Florida.
The Power Five conferences on Friday voted 58-22 to prohibit off-campus practice during a vacation period outside of a team's championship season. This rule was a direct reaction to Harbaugh taking the Wolverines to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for a week of spring practice last year.
The proposal, which came from the Pac-12, said the idea was to let athletes take advantage of regular academic year vacation periods outside of their competition season. The proposal allowed an exception for winter-training trips in women's rowing.
"It is important for student-athletes to have the opportunity to choose how they would like to spend their vacation time when such periods do not occur during the championship season," the proposal stated. "Additionally, this proposal will serve to reduce costs that are associated with travel to off-campus locations for the sole purpose of practice outside the championship season. This concept is consistent with other proposed parameters aimed at emphasizing student-athlete time balance."
For the past year, Harbaugh adamantly supported spring practices in Florida and compared them to basketball teams spending a summer traveling the world for team bonding and development.
"How is football traveling to Bradenton so different?" Harbaugh asked last February.
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel raised that same question during discussion Friday before the vote. According to Dan Wolken of USA Today, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey argued if football teams want to use spring break to go off-campus for a learning experience, they should but not for practice.
There was, of course, a major recruiting element to this debate as Harbaugh wants to break into new states for talent and faced heavy opposition from SEC schools. IMG Academy has 12 of the top 250 recruits for 2017 as ranked by the 247Sports Composite.
But there was also a big-picture issue at play as well. The NCAA and conferences also legislated giving players more time off to be normal students. There have been legal efforts to declare college athletes as employees given the control schools have over their time. Spring-break practices off campus didn't exactly provide a great image in fighting those efforts.