UM’s Butt: NCAA ignoring best interests of athletes

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jake Butt

One of the more interesting byproducts of the satellite camps ban has been the response of college football players who have taken to social media since the announcement Friday, raising awareness of the issue.

Many of the players at Michigan and Michigan State have participated in the Detroit-based Sound Mind Sound Body two-day summer camp and sounded off on Twitter that the ban takes away opportunities for under-the-radar athletes. Online petitions directed to the NCAA have been circulated and the #ChangeNCAA hashtag has gained steam on Twitter.

Michigan tight end Jake Butt has gone on Twitter frequently for a number of college football-related topics. He said Thursday during the Big Ten conference call that student-athletes have a responsibility to speak up.

“I think sometimes we can get lost a little bit, but we do have a voice,” Butt said. “The athletes are one of the driving forces that gets this NCAA to run. Sometimes I feel we aren’t heard as much as possible, especially with these satellite camps.

“I think it’s stripping the opportunity from a lot of kids that don’t have the chance to get out there and see some of these programs and get one-on-one coaching with some of these coaches across the country. I really looked at it as: Who’s really winning in this situation? If the NCAA is so much for the student-athletes, where does the student-athlete win in this? That was my biggest question, and I’m still looking for an answer for that one.”

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Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh launched an extensive nine-city “Swarm Tour” of satellite camps last summer and was lining up a heavy schedule of camps this summer. The NCAA announced last Friday a ban of camps “effective immediately” after a vote of conference representatives.

A meeting of the NCAA Board of Directors on April 28 could potentially overturn or adjust the satellite camps decision.

“We’re going to continue to put more thought into it and then have a course of action,” Harbaugh said on the Big Ten call. “I think it’s helped thousands and thousands and thousands of people and some people have scoffed at that. It’s at least thousands and thousands.”

First-year Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, who spent last season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, said that for some reason, the coaching business has reached the point coaches can’t compliment another on a great idea.

Harbaugh was not the first to participate in satellite camps, but the Swarm Tour was ambitious and generated significant attention last summer, which rankled the SEC and ACC.

“I really believe Jim is about as innovative as they come, he always thinks outside the box,” Durkin said. “I was there last year, we did satellite camps, and it was incredibly beneficial to us. I don’t see where it was a bad thing or it was wrong. He got some criticism from some other coaches, and I don’t get it. Jim always pushes the envelope, and I think it’s great for all of us as a sport.”

Finebaum: Harbaugh has 'hijacked college football'

SEC Network radio host Paul Finebaum said on his show Tuesday that Harbaugh has “hijacked college football” and is a self-promoter.

Butt took exception to that comment.

“That’s absolutely bizarre and there’s no facts to back that claim up,” Butt said. “I can tell you from being a player of Coach Harbaugh, he is always looking for ways to help us out both as football players, as students and as young men. He wasn’t breaking any rules. He was out there trying to help this program, but also help these student-athletes and help some of these smaller colleges.

“It’s bigger than what we’re doing here at Michigan with the ban of the satellite camps, it’s bigger than what’s going on. We’re looking to help student-athletes get their name out there. This is a tough situation, I hope they can figure it out.”