About 24 hours before Michigan and the Big Ten were set to meet in court to review the conference’s three-game suspension of Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, all parties have decided to resolve their disagreement and move forward. Key to the resolution is Harbaugh accepting his suspension, handed down last week, which will keep him off the sideline through the remainder of the regular season.
Michigan remains under investigation by the NCAA for allegedly stealing signs in an illegal fashion through the use of advanced scouting and technology. Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti acted to suspend Harbaugh last week as the NCAA’s investigation continues amid reported pressure from conference members.
“This morning, the University, Coach Harbaugh, and the Big Ten resolved their pending litigation,” the University of Michigan said in a statement. “The Conference agreed to close its investigation, and the University and Coach Harbaugh agreed to accept the three-game suspension. Coach Harbaugh, with the University’s support, decided to accept this sanction to return the focus to our student-athletes and their performance on the field. The Conference has confirmed that it is not aware of any information suggesting Coach Harbaugh’s involvement in the allegations. The University continues to cooperate fully with the NCAA’s investigation.”
The Big Ten subsequently commended Michigan for the resolution.
“The Big Ten Conference’s commitment to student-athletes, sportsmanship and the Commissioner’s duty to protect the integrity of competition will never waver,” the league office said in a statement. “Today’s decision by the University of Michigan to withdraw its legal challenge against the Conference’s November 10th Notice of Disciplinary Action is indicative of the high standards and values that the Conference and the University seek to uphold. The University of Michigan is a valued member of the Big Ten Conference and the Conference will continue to work cooperatively with the University and the NCAA during this process.”
The NCAA made findings of its ongoing probe available to the Big Ten before the conference took action against the Wolverines.
Harbaugh was suspended for violating the Big Ten’s sportsmanship policy, which was initiallyfrom both the coach and program. Harbaugh has denied knowledge of the alleged sign-stealing scheme spearheaded by ex-Wolverines staffer Connor Stalions, and the coach’s legal team challenged the conference’s authority to administer punishment without due process. However, the Big Ten countered that Harbaugh’s suspension was a sanction against the school, rather than a direct punishment of the coach.
The first leg of Harbaugh’s three-game suspension saw Michigan defeat Penn State 24-15 in the Wolverines’ biggest game of the season. Michigan is set to visit Maryland as a 19-point road favorite this Saturday before concluding the season in two weeks against rival Ohio State at home. The Wolverines and Buckeyes, both top-five teams in the College Football Playoff Rankings, will battle for a spot in the 2023 Big Ten Championship Game and an inside track to the CFP itself.
Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, who served as the team’s acting coach against the Nittany Lions, is expected to continue in that role until Harbaugh’s return. Should Michigan beat Ohio State and advance to the Big Ten title game, Harbaugh would be available to coach the Wolverines. Michigan is seeking a third consecutive league title and College Football Playoff berth.
In accepting the three-game suspension, Harbaugh will miss half of the Wolverines’ 12 regular-season games. Harbaugh previously served a school-imposed suspension across the first three games of the season stemming from a separate NCAA investigation into alleged violations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Harbaugh is accused ofwhen meeting with NCAA investigators.