Update: 9/25 – 4:40 p.m.
Purdue responded to Jim Harbaugh’s comments with the following statement:
“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.”
Original story: 9/25 – 3 p.m.
Michigan emerged from Purdue with a win on Saturday, but Jim Harbaugh wasn’t happy about some aspects of his team’s trip to West Lafayette.
During his Monday news conference, Harbaugh spoke at length about the visiting locker room at Ross-Ade Stadium — especially its size and its lack of air conditioning on such a hot day.
“It was so cramped, it was so hot. It was like a hot box,” Harbaugh said per the Detroit News.
Harbaugh made it clear he didn’t want to pick on Purdue in particular, but framed it as a league-wide issue that needs to be addressed — even at Michigan Stadium.
Harbaugh thinks opposing teams may use the conditions of the visiting locker room as a way to gain an edge.
“We are going to look at everything we can do for the visiting team here at the University of Michigan as it relates to a standard of care for the visitors on multiple levels. It’s become apparent after going around to all the schools the last couple years that a conscious effort of gamesmanship that is unsportsmanlike,” Harbaugh said.
With Purdue, Harbaugh said, in addition to the lack of A/C, there were only a few urinals in the visiting locker room and there wasn’t even any sort of door for privacy.
“When you have locker rooms that are too small that are not heated or cooled properly in this case. You know, there’s no air conditioning. Such a tight, cramped environment. We have to open the doors to get some kind of ventilation going in a very small area. [There’s] people walking by. They’re watching you dress,” he said.
On top of that, Harbaugh was concerned by the small area provided for the medical staff to assess player injuries. He said the training table “looked like it was from the ’20s.” Specifically, quarterback Wilton Speight — injured on a late hit Harbaugh said was “egregious” — had to be transported to a student health building by van after leaving the game with an injury.
“There needs to be a way to X-ray a player,” he said. “There needs to be a minimum standard of care for the players. We put a lot of emphasis into health and safety of the players.”
Harbaugh said the facility looked “no different” than when he was a player for Michigan “in 1986” before making sure he was presenting this as a “league-wide” issue.
“I’m not putting this on Purdue. This is league-wide. This needs to be addressed by the league. And we’re going to lead the way,” Harbaugh said.
“I would ask the rest of the Big Ten coaches look into this as well and make this a priority because we’re talking about our players here. We’ll start first with us and make sure if you have visitors coming in that their health and safety needs are being addressed. It needs to be addressed by the commissioner.”
Michigan overcame a 10-7 halftime deficit with three second-half touchdowns to knock off the Boilermakers, 28-10. Now 4-0 and ranked No. 8 in the country, the Wolverines have a bye before hosting rival Michigan State on Oct. 7.
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