The Michigan Wolverines enter Week 11 with an undefeated record. Although the focus should be on beating Penn State this week, the program continues to deal with uncertainty stemming from the sign-stealing scandal. The Big Ten and NCAA have been investigating the scope of the program’s sign-stealing.
The Big Ten quickly scrambled to address concerns from the rest of the conference. We finally received an update on head coach Jim Harbaugh’s punishment on Friday.
Jim Harbaugh’s Suspension Revealed
ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Harbaugh is expected to be suspended from the sideline during games through the end of the 2023 regular season. Harbaugh will still be allowed to coach during the week but will be prohibited from being physically on the field during game day.
The suspension appears to thread a needle between being overly harsh on the Wolverines’ players and not doing anything. The Wolverines clearly crossed a line, but the actual impact of sign-stealing has been debated.
Wolverines players likely had no idea of Michigan staffer Connor Stalions’ actions. The program suspended Stalions after it was revealed he had purchased tickets for at least 35 games across 17 stadiums over three years. Stalions was accused of scouting teams in person, which violates NCAA bylaw 11.6.1.
Harbaugh will not be allowed to be at the venue on game days. It’s also possible more punishments will be doled out over the coming days and weeks. As of yesterday, Thamel had reported there was “no indication of any timetable” of discipline, so things moved quickly to reach this point.
Michigan responded via a statement, claiming Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti’s ruling “disregards” the conference’s handbook and was a rush of judgment. Michigan also believes that by dropping its punishment on a court holiday, it’s unfairly unable to seek immediate judicial relief. However, the program does intend to seek a court order to prevent the suspension from taking effect.
We’ll continue to update this story as more information becomes available.