ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Jim Harbaugh wants to take his team overseas every year and he doesn’t think the NCAA could possibly have a problem with the plan.
“Unless they’re not for student-athletes,” Harbaugh said Wednesday after the school’s “Signing of the Stars” event.
Harbaugh said a donor, who requested anonymity, is paying for the Wolverines’ trip to Italy this year.
South Africa, Japan, Israel and either England or New Zealand are countries Harbaugh wants to bring the Wolverines to for practices and educational opportunities over the following four years.
Harbaugh announced the plan to go overseas shortly after the NCAA recently decided it was banning football teams from combining spring break and spring football as Harbaugh did last year in Florida.
“We’re not going during spring break,” Harbaugh said with a sly smile . “We’re going at the end of the term so it’s compliant with all rules, or new rules that have been made. Let’s talk about what mainly it is. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for all of us.”
Harbaugh said the annual trips are compliant with NCAA rules because they’re part of study-abroad programs and will not include competition. After the trips, players will participate in classes, internships and community service while having the month of May free of football responsibilities.
“The world is our classroom,” he said. “They’re going to be going to Iceland, Belgium, Japan, Israel, South America, Puerto Rico. It’s so phenomenal. I can’t wait.”
Harbaugh said spring practice will begin on campus March 24. After the term, the Wolverines will have practices in Italy during the last week of April.
Ben Mason, an incoming freshman, who has already enrolled, said Harbaugh informed the team of the upcoming trip during a team dinner at his house a couple weeks ago.
“It’s pretty cool,” Mason said. “I’ve never been out of the country.
Harbaugh began working on the overseas trip last summer while he was traveling to Maryland for one of his satellite camps.
So, what’s next for the envelope-pushing coach?
“We’ll surprise you,” Harbaugh said.
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