Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh, speaking Monday at his weekly news conference, raised the issue after his team opened the Big Ten season at Purdue last Saturday and endured sweltering temperatures in a tight locker room that did not have air conditioning and sub-par health services for injured players.
Injured Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight had to be transported by van to a student health building to undergo an X-ray after what Harbaugh on Monday called an “egregious” late hit that he believes should have been ruled targeting.
“Gamesmanship should cease at the line of health and safety for the players,” Harbaugh said. “It’s become apparent after going around to all the visiting schools in the last couple of years that a conscious effort of gamesmanship that is unsportsmanlike when you have locker rooms that are too small, that are not heated or cooled properly, in this case, there’s no air conditioning. Such a tight, cramped environment where you have to open the doors to get some kind of ventilation going in a very small area. People are walking by, they’re watching you dress. The number of urinals or bathrooms for the players and staff, I think there were two. There was not even a private door around it.”
Harbaugh said he was not “putting this on Purdue” but said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany should look into the situation.
Tom Schott, Senior Associate Athletics Director at Purdue responded to comments from Michigan’s coach Jim Harbaue:
“Purdue regards the welfare of all student-athletes as its No. 1 priority. We would fully support a conversation regarding a conference-wide set of guidelines for visiting football team accommodations because we have experienced less-than-ideal conditions on the road. There is no place for gamesmanship when it comes to player care and safety.
“The after-the-fact concerns expressed by Michigan are somewhat surprising because a member of its football staff conducted a walk-thru of our facilities with our athletics department staff at Ross-Ade Stadium on July 18.
“Furthermore, to help teams prepare in advance, our visiting team manual highlights in bold type “there is no air conditioning in the (visiting) locker room,” with accompanying Purdue Athletics staff contact information about how to request preferred temporary accommodations. We did not receive any such request.
“Basic x-ray is available within our athletic footprint and more-sophisticated capabilities are located two blocks away, similar to the arrangements at many other schools. Our sports medicine staff members, in fact, have received numerous compliments from their Michigan counterparts regarding the care they received at Purdue.”