Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh will remain suspended for the rest of the regular season, as the university, Harbaugh and the Big Ten Conference will not be attending a previously-scheduled court hearing for Friday morning in Ann Arbor.
The university confirmed the news in a statement:
“(Thursday) 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. 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 key points to highlight here, 1) that Harbaugh “decided to accept this sanction to return the focus to our student-athletes and their performance on the field,” and 2) The Conference has confirmed that it is not aware of any information suggesting Coach Harbaugh’s involvement in the allegations.
It sounds like Harbaugh — being his usual “talk to this guy right here” type of guy — decided to shift the conversation off of him and back onto the team and the players. With just two games left in the regular season and a spot in the Big Ten Championship on the line, this is not unlike Harbaugh to do this, but it is peculiar what made him decide on this the day before the court hearing.
Also of note is the conference having no knowledge or information leading it to believe Harbaugh knew of Connor Stalions’ sign-stealing scheme. At this point, with the investigation now in its fourth week, you would think that any potential evidence of Harbaugh knowing would have been released by now. The NCAA is continuing its investigation, so there is always the possibility more information is released. However, at this moment in time, it’s looking like Harbaugh truly did not know anything about what Stalions was doing, as he laid out in his one and only statement about it back on Oct. 19.
The Big Ten also released a statement on Thursday afternoon:
The Big Ten 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 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.
Pettiti suspended Harbaugh less than 24 hours before the game at Penn State last weekend. Sherrone Moore filled in as the interim head coach and guided the Wolverines to a crucial 24-15 victory over the Nittany Lions. Moore will remain the acting head coach as Harbaugh finishes his suspension.
The Wolverines will be on the road again this weekend, traveling to Maryland to take on the Terrapins. The game is set to air at noon on FOX.