Jim Harbaugh, Michigan get advice from players' parents on returning to action

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has reached out the parents of his players to gauge their feelings about having their sons return to football.

The university suspended on-campus activities in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in recent weeks, there has been a movement to return to campuses this fall and that includes a resumption of football. The NCAA recently announced on-campus voluntary workouts can begin June 1, but Michigan’s stay-at-home order goes through June 12.

Jim Harbaugh

Harbaugh, who has made the rounds recently on a number of national programs, has said he doesn’t know what the fall holds in terms of football, but said he would be fine playing games without fans, if that’s what is decided.

During an interview Thursday on “The Rich Eisen Show,” Harbaugh said they have taken a survey of players’ parents and asked for their input.

 “A really important piece we’ve done is reached to our parents: ‘Hey this is our team, these are your sons, what do you think is right? How do you want to do this?’” Harbaugh said. “Got a lot of great feedback. You’ve got a lot of smart parents, and by the way, they’re parents.

“Tremendous feedback. Even shared some of the protocols that they have at some of the companies they work at, Ford Motor Company and others. Some are doctors. Some had terrific suggestions. Tremendous things came back. That’s actually helping us in a big way as we’re going to go forward.”

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Chris Hutchinson, an emergency room physician at Beaumont in Royal Oak, was a co-captain and All-American at Michigan in 1992. His son, Aidan, is a starting defensive end. He told The Detroit News in a story this week he “absolutely” would be comfortable with his son playing this fall.

“I think that's part of the reason why they sent this survey out, to get people’s comfort level on how they were going to respond to working out in groups of 10 or having meetings or making their kids fill out screening tests, getting temperatures, and getting subjective medical tests every week,” Hutchinson said. “You don’t know how people are going to respond, and you have to be accepting that there's a lot of different ways that people digest this information and they've got a lot of different personal experiences.”

Harbaugh said the players and their parents are meeting Saturday in a virtual setting to give them an update.

“And tell them where we’re at and what we’re looking for and what has to happen,” Harbaugh said. “Things have to happen with the state governance, the university. And they’re great and they’re really understanding. But don’t beat the coach up too much, because we don’t know that much and sometimes it changes from week to week, let alone day to day. Everybody’s being respectful. Everyone’s respectful of what the doctors are saying, respectful of the virus and ultimately want the health and safety of the guys, the coaching staff, everybody, the community, to be the priority.

“And that’s being done. I applaud people. People are doing the right thing, they have been doing the right thing, and I think it was two weeks and then it’s really turned into more like two months, but the curve has flattened. That’s what everybody set out to do. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep attacking this with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. The engines are revved and we want somewhere to go.”

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