COLUMBUS — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer may not see eye-to-eye on much, but they agree on one thing — something needs to be done about locker rooms for visiting football teams in the Big Ten.
“It’s unsportsmanlike,” Harbaugh said.
The coach of one of the Big Ten’s richest programs was complaining about the facilities at Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium, where the Wolverines topped the Boilermakers 28-10 in a game earlier this season. He wants the Big Ten to investigate and develop some standards for space, cleanliness, technology and comfort for visitors.
The locker room Michigan used at the West Lafayette, Ind., stadium was not air-conditioned. Some of the players went out to the air-conditioned charter bus to get relief from the oppressive heat.
“It was so cramped and so hot, it was like a hot box,” Harbaugh said. “Really the only way to get relief was to open the doors, (and) you have people watching you dress. It’s not good. I’ve seen this at other facilities in the Big Ten.
“It’s become apparent after going around to all the visiting schools the last couple years that (there is) a conscious effort of gamesmanship,” he said.
He also complained that his quarterback, Wilton Speight, had to be taken away from the stadium in a van to get X-rays because medical equipment wasn’t available at the stadium.
Meyer said his team has encountered “a couple” problems with substandard dressing rooms on the road. And he agreed the Big Ten needs some locker room reform.
“And I’ve shared that with our athletic director, and the commissioner should handle that,” Meyer said. “In my very strong opinion, that should not be allowed.”
Purdue just opened a new $65 million football facility that did not include upgrades for the visitors’ locker room. Purdue spokesman Tom Schott said Monday that opposing teams are notified in advance about the lack of air conditioning and can ask for “preferred temporary accommodations.” Michigan did not make such a request, Schott said, and he called the “after-the-fact concerns” by the Wolverines “somewhat surprising” since a member of its football staff conducted a walk-through of the facilities in July.
Schott also said an x-ray for Speight was available “within our athletic footprint and more-sophisticated capabilities are located two blocks away, similar to the arrangements at many other schools.”
“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,” the Purdue statement said. “There is no place for gamesmanship when it comes to player care and safety.”
The Big Ten said there is a protocol for member schools to suggest and make changes.
“While current conference policy does not set minimum specifications for team locker rooms, most, if not all, of our sports and game management procedures come from recommendations based on the experience of our schools and are supported by a vote of the majority of our members,” the statement said.
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