NCAA committee initiates move to eliminate Michigan's spring-break trips

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If Jim Harbaugh is eyeing another big spring-break trip, this year is the time to do it.

NCAA leadership took steps this week at the association's annual convention to close the loophole that allowed Harbaugh to escort Michigan football players off campus for four practices over spring break last March at IMG Academy, a Florida recruiting hotspot.

The Division I Council on Wednesday asked the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to review and report its recommendation on the issue of staging practice sessions away from campus during a break from school.

Brady Bramlett, SAAC co-chair, said Thursday that the 32-member committee stands opposed to such trips.

"We all agree, that's something that should not happen," said Bramlett, a former baseball player at Ole Miss. "We're very adamant that, in your non-championship season, if you have a vacation period, it should really be a vacation period.

"If we're going to honor student-athletes' time, we need to honor to the utmost."

Bramlett said the SAAC would recommend to the council to draft legislation that would eliminate off-campus practice similar to Michigan's 2016 trip. According to Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips, chair of the D-I council, legislation -- if approved -- could go into effect as soon as August, removing the possibility of a spring-break trip in 2018.

So go ahead, dream of a destination for this year.

The time demands placed on student-athletes will take center stage at the convention Friday during the autonomy session of Power 5 conferences. The Power 5 institutions are scheduled to vote on a measure that would define activity such as compliance meetings and team-building events not required to count against the 20-hour-per-week limit on athletic activities.

In other words, the NCAA membership is finally getting serious about trying to find a balance for student-athletes' time commitments.

And a trip to Florida for practice over spring break doesn't fall on the right side of the potential new rules.

"For me, it would be like baseball taking a Thanksgiving trip to the Dominican or to Costa Rica to play in a Latin American league," Bramlett said. "A lot of people would be against that, because it cuts into our time to get away from the field, which people need.

"And sometimes, a student-athlete needs to be told, 'Hey, you need time off. You need to let your body rest. You need to let your mind rest, because it can be consuming.'"

Former Boston College running back Myles Willis, also a member of the SAAC, said he understood the benefits to an experience like the Wolverines' trip last year.

"But we need to make sure we're not getting too far away from academics as the main focus of college athletics," Willis said.

Michigan has not announced a 2017 trip over spring break. Last year, Harbaugh unveiled plans for the IMG visit in early February.

Earlier this week at the NCAA convention, another Harbaugh delight -- satellite camps -- was essentially nixed. That move would be effective this year if the council passes legislation, as expected, in April that would limit the number of days to 10 that a school can hold camps or clinics and require the camps to be staged on the institution's campus.