The Big Ten has come down hard on Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines.
The conference announced Friday that Harbaugh will not be allowed to coach for the remainder of the 2023 regular season after it said that Michigan “has been found in violation of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Policy for conducting an impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years, resulting in an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition.”
“As a penalty imposed on the institution, the University football team must compete without its Head Football Coach for the games remaining in the 2023 regular-season, effective immediately,” the Big Ten said in a release. “This disciplinary action shall not preclude the University or its football team from having its Head Football Coach attend practices or other football team activities other than the game activities to which it applies. For clarity, the Head Football Coach shall not be present at the game venue on the dates of the games to which this disciplinary action applies.”
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Michigan responded to the announcement with a statement of its own, saying it intends to seek a court order “preventing this disciplinary action from taking effect.”
“Like all members of the Big Ten Conference, we are entitled to a fair, deliberate, and thoughtful process to determine the full set of facts before a judgment is rendered,” the school said. “Today’s action by Commissioner Tony Petitti disregards the conference’s own handbook, violates basic tenets of due process, and sets an untenable precedent of assessing penalties before an investigation has been completed.”
In a 13-page letter to Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti said the conference “has not yet received any information indicating that Head Football Coach Harbaugh was aware of the impermissible nature of the sign-stealing scheme,” and that the action was not a sanction of Harbaugh but a sanction against the university.
Wolverines staff member Connor Stalions, who is at the center of the controversy, resigned on Nov. 3 after being initially suspended with pay during the NCAA investigation into the alleged off-campus scouting and sign-stealing.
Last week, multiple reports surfaced that Big Ten coaches held a video call on Nov. 1 with Petitti and urged him to take action against Michigan as the NCAA investigation will likely take time.
ESPN on Nov. 2 reported that Big Ten athletic directors also held a video call with Petitti without Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel to discuss the allegations.
The Big Ten reportedly notified Michigan that it could be facing disciplinary action, to which Michigan responded on Wednesday, according to ESPN.
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After the NCAA notified Michigan of its investigation, Harbaugh denied any knowledge or involvement in the alleged sign-stealing.
“I do not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signals, nor have I directed any staff member or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment,” Harbaugh said in a statement. “I have no awareness of anyone on our staff having done that or having directed that action.”
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Michigan is preparing to play No. 10 Penn State on Saturday and is traveling to Happy Valley on Friday.
The Wolverines have three games remaining on their schedule, including a Nov. 25 matchup with No. 1 Ohio State.
The Associated Press contributd to this report