Jim Harbaugh: NCAA football faces scrutiny, rules other sports don't

ByHeather Dinich ESPN logo
Monday, June 6, 2016

BALTIMORE, Md. -- Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said "there's no doubt there's a prejudice against football," as he talked about the challenges of traveling to 39 camps in 22 states and two countries -- all while complying with NCAA rules.

When Harbaugh entered the Wolverines' satellite camp at Baltimore's Patterson Park on Monday, he was approached by several high school students who wanted to get their pictures taken with him, but Harbaugh had to put a halt to it, telling them he heard from the NCAA on Sunday that he's not allowed to take pictures with them.

Later, Harbaugh interrupted an ESPN.com interview with his son, tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh, because he had just heard that the NCAA wasn't allowing interviews with the media during camps. That changed within the two-hour practice, and he addressed reporters after the first session.

"I believe we can do interviews," Harbaugh said. "That's what we've been told. You were there, you saw what's going on with the changing daily rules. It's very interesting. It's very interesting. The NCAA compliance people are here. They've been at every single one. The NCAA has sent at least one or two of their people to each of our camps and we've had one of our compliance people at each one of these camps. That notion that there's not oversight of these camps -- you've seen it with your own eyes, there absolutely is.

"Football gets the majority of the scrutiny and the rules that are intended to hurt the student-athlete and it makes no sense," he said. "That's why I'm pointing this out because some of these other sports aren't getting it."

Harbaugh continued, saying "people are against football."

"Let's take lacrosse for example," he said, "white sport, rising, affluent sport. Recruit 'em in the eighth grade, dark period for a couple days in August and it's a totally different situation.

"It bothers us, but if it's a test of wills, we're going to fight for the youngsters and the student-athletes and their families and for the game of football itself."

As far as the war of words between Harbaugh and Alabama coach Nick Saban -- there wasn't any. Alabama offensive analyst Mike Locksley was the only member of the Tide's staff to attend the camp, and he wasn't allowed to talk to the media -- a Saban rule, not an NCAA rule.

Still, Harbaugh said he expects the issue of satellite camps to remain a polarizing issue among coaches throughout the country.

"No, we're passionate about the game of football and teaching it and bringing it to the doorstep of anybody that's interested in being involved in athletics and being involved in football," he said. "We're not going to just agree. We're going to fight for it."

Harbaugh was energized throughout the entire camp, sporting a Cal Ripken jersey for the first hour before switching to a Ray Lewis jersey. His next stop is New Jersey, and he said he'll be wearing the Derek Jeter jersey he packed.

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