It's official: UM heading to Rome for spring practice

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his team are heading to Rome this spring.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has quite an impressive trip planned for his football team.

Harbaugh will take the Wolverines on an excursion to Rome in late April for a combined football and educational experience. The Wolverines will hold three spring practices at AS Roma, used by the professional Italian soccer club.

The team will visit historic landmarks, spend time with youth at orphanages and visit U.S. military among other activities, the UM athletic department announced Monday. The trip will end with a youth clinic and the team will play a scrimmage that will be open to the public.

“We were looking to provide our student-athletes with a great educational, cultural and international football experience,” Harbaugh said in a statement. “I am excited that our student-athletes will be able to take advantage of this amazing educational opportunity, be exposed to another culture and be ambassadors for the United States and the University of Michigan during our visit to Rome.”

The players also will have a chance to explore international internships, study abroad or service opportunities.

“The study abroad and international internships will better prepare our student-athletes to compete in today’s global economy,” Harbaugh said. “We are committed to offering our students a broad experience that will prepare these young men for life after football.”

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Before the team leaves for Rome, the Wolverines will hold a spring scrimmage April 15 at Michigan Stadium. It will be open the public and admission is free.

Last year, Harbaugh stunned the college football world by taking the Wolverines to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., to hold four spring-practice practices and also to have some down time as a team together over spring break.

A proposal to prohibit off-campus practice during a vacation period – like Michigan football’s trip to IMG Academy – was passed last Friday by the NCAA’s power five conferences at the annual convention.

It will go into effect this August.

Basketball programs frequently make trips to Europe. NCAA rules allow a team to take a foreign trip every four years. The Michigan basketball team has made recent trips to Europe in 2014 to Italy and in 2010 to Belgium, Amsterdam and Paris.

Many basketball coaches have said that these trips that include sightseeing and playing games against European teams go a long way toward developing camaraderie in a young team.

“Over the past few decades, student-athletes in other sports have had the opportunity to participate in international training trips to practice and prepare for the upcoming season,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for these young men to learn about and experience another culture, connect with the people of Italy, and showcase American football internationally. The University of Michigan has always encouraged our students to gain knowledge through international experiences and we are so glad to provide them with this opportunity.”

The dates of the trip were not shared in the release. Michigan’s exam schedule for winter term is April 20-21 and April 24-27.

Twitter: @chengelis

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