Michigan announced Monday it will fly its football team to Rome this coming April (after finals, of course), where the players will conduct three of their 15 spring practices at the facilities of AS Roma, including an open scrimmage.
In case you forgot about last March’s incredibly vapid spring break debacle, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh took his team down to Bradenton, Fla., to work out at the IMG Academy, issuing an open invitation to Florida high school coaches in the process. At the time, the move was legal by the NCAA rulebook and theoretically helped Michigan earn the ear of coveted Florida recruits while also closing the gap between its expense account and annual revenue stream; naturally, the big wigs in Ann Arbor happily signed off.
In response, ACC and SEC coaches and ADs lost their collective shit, spouting off about saving their players’ spring break, high school athlete and coaching access rules, and some other pointless dribble that avoided the truth, which was that they would very much like for powerhouses from other conferences to stay far away from their favorite recruiting spot. The blatant faux-complaints were made the whiners easy targets for a Twitter assassin like Harbaugh.
In an update to the rules, the Power Five conferences passed a measure on Friday to bar teams from out-of-state travel during vacation period. The 58-20 vote (11 of the 15 voting athletes dissented, voting to keep spring trips) effectively kneecapped any future recruiting-cum-budget balancing spring break trips for Michigan.
For the Wolverines, the surface gains of tapping into a recruiting hotbed and practicing in non-Skyrim conditions cleverly masked the benefit of being able to mark down a team-wide out-of-state trip in red ink. As CBS Sports reports, the school spent $348,553 on last year’s domestic trip. Compared to how much the school spends on its coaching staff—Harbaugh can potentially haul in roughly $9 million per year on his own—it’s a drop in the bucket. An international trip figures to be a significantly larger drop.
And similar drops in said bucket—annual four percent raises for coaches, paying Brady Hoke’s severance, future stadium updates, and continued increases in staff size—add up, to the point where all the money is spent and there is somehow none left to pay the athletes.
Per Michigan’s website, the athletic department budget for the 2017 fiscal year increased four percent, “based on operating expenses of $154.8 million for the 2017 fiscal year.” In the meantime, Michigan will keep racking up very good recruits and scoring very helpful headlines about its “rough” fiscal year.