Michigan suspends soccer coach Jim Harbaugh for three games early in the 2023 season


Jim Harbaugh informed the Michigan soccer team ahead of Monday's practice that the program itself issued a three-game suspension on him for the start of the 2023 season, a person familiar with the situation told Free Press.

Harbaugh, 59, will not be on the sidelines on Michigan's non-conference programs — East Carolina (September 2), UNLV (September 9) and Bowling Green (September 16) — but will return for the Big Ten program starts in the following week at home against Rutgers (September 23).

Harbaugh is reportedly being fined by the NCAA for investigating possible recruiting violations and misleading NCAA investigators. A draft notice of the allegations was served to the Wolverines back in January, and then reports emerged that Michigan and NCAA had reportedly agreed to a four-game ban in July. The The deal fell through in the last few hours In early August, leaving Harbaugh vacant as coach this season but facing a future hearing – and potentially a larger sentence.

“As the ongoing NCAA matter continues in the NCAA process, today's announcement is our way of addressing bugs that our department has agreed to move forward with that process,” Michigan Athletics Director Warde Manuel said in a press release Monday. “We will continue to support Coach Harbaugh, his staff and our outstanding student-athletes. In accordance with NCAA guidelines, we are unable to comment further until the matter is resolved.”

Harbaugh's response in a statement released by the school didn't have much to say about the suspension: “I will continue to do what I always do and what I always tell our players and my kids at home: ‘Don't understand.' bitter, get better.'”

It's unclear if Harbaugh was aware of Michigan's decision or if he was part of a collaborative process, but this is viewed as Michigan's attempt to appease the NCAA in hopes of avoiding further sanctions in the future.

It's also unclear who will serve as the Wolverines' interim coach. Manuel's testimony said Michigan would announce later, but even with the self-imposed penalty and previous recruiting sanctions, the story is far from over.

The suspension stemmed from alleged NCAA Level I and II violations, Harbaugh and the Football Program said. The Level II violations were due to various violations in recruitment and training. The Level I felonies, which were classified as more serious, were based on statements Harbaugh made to the NCAA that the organization considered misleading.

The lack of an agreement on the suspension means Harbaugh's case will go through the normal hearing process — likely resulting in the NCAA's sentence being pushed back to 2024.

Given that the NCAA Violations Committee reportedly rejected the negotiated solution, a lesser penalty seems unlikely.

Harbaugh isn't the only Michigan coach facing a fine: offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore and tight end coach Grant Newsome each face game suspensions for their involvement in the alleged recruiting violations. Michigan is not permitted under NCAA statutes to comment on the investigation, which Harbaugh, Moore and Newsome have said each time they have been asked.

“As you probably already know, I am not permitted to speak about any aspect of this current situation,” Harbaugh said July 27th at the Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis. “I agree with you – I would like to disclose everything. Nothing to be ashamed of. But now is not the right time for that.

But instead others spoke. Derrick Crawford, the NCAA's vice president of hearing operations, in an unusual practice, sent out a statement to dispel any circulating notions or rumors that the inquiry involved a now infamous off-campus meal.

“The Michigan violations case relates to improper on- and off-campus recruiting during the COVID-19 dead-time and improper coaching activities,” he said. “No cheeseburger.”

This upset Tom Mars, Harbaugh's attorney, so much that he publicly responded.

“Pursuant to the NCAA's internal procedures, and under penalty of penalty, Michigan, the coaches involved, and their attorneys are barred from speaking on this ongoing case,” he wrote. “Yet, can the NCAA issue a public statement expressing their views on the case?”

Additional penalties related to this investigation will be imposed by the NCAA, but only once the court case is complete. In the meantime, Harbaugh said he has his full attention on the upcoming season.

Michigan is number 2 in both cases USA TODAY AFCA Coach Survey and AP Poll earlier in the season and is coming off a two-year streak with a 25-3 aggregate record with two wins over Ohio State, two Big Ten championships and two college football playoff appearances.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button