Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will be suspended for part of the 2023 season after all.
Yahoo Sports can confirm Harbaugh will be suspended for the first three games of the regular season for making what the NCAA deemed to be false statements amid an investigation into alleged recruiting violations that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic dead period.
Harbaugh informed his team of the suspension on Monday afternoon and Michigan confirmed the suspension later Monday. It’s a self-imposed suspension from the university that will allow Harbaugh to return for Michigan’s Week 4 game versus Rutgers on Sept. 23, the Wolverines Big Ten opener. Michigan is coming off back-to-back Big Ten championships and has its eyes on a national title in 2023.
"While the ongoing NCAA matter continues through the NCAA process, today’s announcement is our way of addressing mistakes that our department has agreed to in an attempt to further that process,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said. "We will continue to support coach Harbaugh, his staff, and our outstanding student-athletes. Per the NCAA’s guidelines, we cannot comment further until the matter is resolved."
Harbaugh and the NCAA had previously come to a tentative agreement for the coach to serve a four-game suspension, but those talks broke down last week. Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel reported that hurdles arose in those negotiations and the case would likely instead move further through the NCAA’s disciplinary system — likely after the 2023 season.
Since then, Harbaugh and Michigan apparently reconsidered and he will now miss his team’s first three games of the season versus East Carolina, UNLV and Bowling Green. Michigan said it will announce "interim coaching appointments" at a future date.
All three games will be played at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, as will the Wolverines’ Week 4 game versus Rutgers — a game that would mark Harbaugh’s return to the sidelines.
Even with Michigan self-imposing the suspension, the NCAA could decide to inflict further penalties. In his statement, Manuel acknowledged that the case has not been fully resolved.
In a notice of allegations sent to Michigan in January, the NCAA alleged that the Wolverines had impermissible meetings with two recruits during a COVID-19 dead period. Other violations — all of which are considered Level II — include texting a recruit outside of a contact period, exceeding the NCAA’s limits for on-field coaches by having analysts instruct players during practice and having coaches watch players work out over Zoom.
Harbaugh is accused of being dishonest when questioned by the NCAA about alleged violations committed during a COVID-19 dead period. Harbaugh’s alleged dishonesty was deemed a Level I violation. Yahoo Sports reported last month that Harbaugh acknowledged the program committed Level II violations but he had refused to sign any document or publicly state that he was dishonest with NCAA enforcement.
"The Michigan infractions case is related to impermissible on and off-campus recruiting during the COVID-19 dead period and impermissible coaching activities — not a cheeseburger,” said Derrick Crawford, NCAA vice president, hearing operations said last week. “It is not uncommon for the [Committee on Infractions] to seek clarification on key facts prior to accepting. ... If the involved parties cannot resolve a case through the negotiated resolution process, it may proceed to a hearing, but the committee believes cooperation is the best avenue to quickly resolve issues.”