Big 10

Satellite camps, Jim Harbaugh talk await Warde Manuel at Big Ten spring meetings

May 17, 2016

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Warde Manuel’s unofficial official welcome to the Big Ten takes place this week in Chicago.

The Big Ten began its annual spring meetings Monday at the league offices in Rosemont, with a number of issues on tap.

Manuel — Michigan’s first-year athletic director — will make his first trip to Rosemont for the formal meetings and is expected to be joined by men’s basketball coach John Beilein (as the league’s men’s basketball coaches and senior women administrators will join the ADs this week).

The ADs and coaches will spend plenty of time discussing league-wide issues behind closed doors. And, at some point along the way, they’ll entertain questions from reporters about what’s happening.

Here are a few things Manuel will surely be asked about this week:

Satellite camps, recruiting model
Oh yes. Satellite camps.

Obviously, Manuel supports the concept. He’s said as much multiple times already this spring. He publicly opposed the initial ban put into place by the NCAA’s Division I Council and he publicly applauded the Board of Directors for overturning the decision a month later.

And while Jim Harbaugh won’t give an answer when it comes to “how much is enough,” Manuel will likely be asked exactly that.

Michigan’s athletic director hasn’t gone into too much detail on the subject of possible eventual regulation of satellite camps down the road. Right now, Michigan has plans for more than 30 camps in nearly 20 states — including stops in Australia and Samoa.

How much is Michigan willing to spend on this? Does Manuel believe restrictions should or will be applied down the road? Is there a number that’s too much?

Satellite camps and the entire college football recruiting model will be a huge topic this week — and since his football coach is Harbaugh, Manuel will likely be at the center of the whole thing.

The Big Ten has discussed the possibility of adjusting the recruiting calendar (early signing period, faster official visits, etc) for some years now.

It’ll be interesting to hear Manuel’s take on all that.

Grad transfers
John Beilein will be joining Manuel this week in Chicago, which means there could be some further discussion about the league’s graduate transfer policy as it relates to players leaving one conference school to play at another.

Beilein’s had this happen twice in the last two seasons, obviously. First with Max Bielfeldt’s move to Indiana and then earlier this month with Spike Albrecht’s decision to finish his career at Purdue.

Beilein was initially against allowing Albrecht to transfer to any Big Ten school. He eventually relented and took away all restrictions. At the same time, though, he said he’d like to discuss the entire situation with the rest of the league’s coaches and perhaps the ADs moving forward.

This week could provide that chance.

What’s the deal with the Division I Council?
As every major athletic conference goes through its meetings this spring, the entire idea of the Division I Council is surely going to be a debated topic.

The council made headlines in early April when it voted to kill satellite camps. It continued to make headlines throughout the month, as Pac-12 coaches revealed that their league rep (UCLA’s Dan Guerrero) went against the conference’s wishes during the official vote. The Sun Belt expressed a similar concern.

No voting member on the council is bound by rule to vote with his or her league’s consensus in mind. They can vote however they’d like. Which, at times, makes little sense.

Either way, Northwestern AD Jim Phillips is the league’s rep on the council and he’ll surely have plenty of insight on what’s on that group’s docket. One issue that continues to pop up each year is the overall time demand on student-athletes.

Which brings us to the next point …

Harbaugh, Harbaugh, Harbaugh
The local media in Michigan has already asked Manuel plenty about his relationship with Harbaugh. The two have appeared to be on the same page at just about every turn during Manuel’s short stint in the big chair.

But he’ll surely get asked plenty of questions about his head coach this week if he spends time with reporters in other markets.

Harbaugh’s obviously been a lightning rod for college football.

So, fair or not, Manuel will get plenty of questions thrown his way this week about his head football coach.

Harbaugh angered some conferences this spring when he took Michigan’s football program to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida during the school’s spring break. Some coaches/administrators argued that players should be allowed to use their time off however they see fit.

Harbaugh argued against the “sanctity of spring break.”

Manuel will likely have another chance to speak on that topic this week.

Future schedules, night games, Notre Dame, Michigan State-Ohio State, etc
Manuel’s gone on record explaining how he’s open to adding Notre Dame back to Michigan’s schedule at some point in the future.

Pretty much everyone involved with both programs agrees on this topic now. So we’ll see if there’s an update there.

If there’s movement on that topic, that may well mean other games are being shuffled during future dates.

Also, the never-ending question of “when will Michigan be able to go back not playing Michigan State/Ohio State in the same location each year” is still there. Manuel has said in the past that this wasn’t a top priority of his (it really can’t be, as league schedules are set until 2020). But it could be a topic of conversation.

And then there’s the whole night game thing — which never seems to go away.

Other topics for Manuel and the rest of the league’s ADs

— One way or another, the Big Ten is going to begin a massive television contract in 2017. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will surely have a thought or two on that subject.

— Expansion has been a topic of discussion every year since the Big Ten got things really cooking when it added Nebraska before the 2011 football season. The league recently added Notre Dame for hockey. Anything else?

— Delany’s take on the camps. Jim Delany really hasn’t said very much about the satellite camps or the recruiting model publicly. He hasn’t said much about the spring break football stuff either. He’ll speak with reporters Wednesday. So we’ll see what’s on his mind.

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