Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh will not be on the sidelines for the No. 3 Wolverines’ final two regular season games.
The Big Ten announced Thursday afternoon the school withdrew its legal challenge against the conference’s three-game suspension in the midst of allegations of in-person scouting and sign stealing that broke NCAA rules.
In announcing the suspension last Friday — less than 24 hours before Michigan’s game at Penn State — Commissioner Tony Petitti said the program violated the Big Ten Sportsmanship Policy, as they and the NCAA have evidence that the impermissible scheme was “proven” to be ongoing this season.
Later that evening Michigan and Harbaugh filed for a temporary restraining order, aiming to keep the suspension from taking effect. A hearing regarding the order had been scheduled for Friday morning.
“This morning, the University, Coach Harbaugh, and the Big Ten resolved their pending litigation. The Conference agreed to close its investigation, and the University and Coach Harbaugh agreed to accept the three-game suspension,” Michigan officials said in a statement.
“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 statement said. “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, meanwhile, said the conference’s “commitment to student-athletes, sportsmanship and the Commissioner’s duty to protect the integrity of competition will never waver.”
“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 conference’s statement said. “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.”
With Michigan’s decision to withdraw its legal challenge, Harbaugh will not coach Saturday at Maryland or in the season finale against No. 2 Ohio State.
The Wolverines beat Penn State last weekend 24-15 in their biggest test of the season thus far. Offensive Coordinator Sherrone Moore served as the team’s acting head coach in that game and is expected to continue in that role the rest of the season.
The Big Ten and NCAA say they have evidence that at least one staff member — identified in media reports as former “analyst” Connor Stalions — was “engaged in an organized, extensive, years-long in-person advance scouting scheme that was impermissible.”