Coach Jim Harbaugh Announces Spring Drill in Rome, Italy, Despite ‘Michigan Rule’

Jim Harbaugh

Only days after the NCAA voted to impose the “Michigan Rule,” Wolverines Coach Jim Harbaugh announced that the team will hold an April spring practice in Rome, Italy.

On January 23, the Wolverines announced “a special educational and football experience for its student-athletes, with a week of learning and spring practice in Rome.”

“During the trip to Rome,” the press release notes, “the Wolverines will be immersed in the culture of Italy. The team will visit historic landmarks, spend time with youth at orphanages, and visit deployed U.S. military in the country amongst other team activities. The experience will culminate with a youth clinic, and the team will play a scrimmage that will be open to the Italian public.”

“We were looking to provide our student-athletes with a great educational, cultural and international football experience,” Jim Harbaugh added in the release. “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.”

The timing is interesting for coming only days after the NCAA voted to prohibit off-campus practices during vacation times such as spring break.

The rule was in response to schools scheduling practices in other regions of the country and in part meant to discourage schools from recruiting in others’ territory.

It is being referred to as the “Michigan rule” due to Coach Harbaugh taking his team into the heart of SEC country last year during spring break.

Michigan officials say that the trip to Italy doesn’t violate the new prohibitions because the trip is scheduled during the semester in April and will be using three of the school’s 15 allotted spring practice days.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.