COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — The Big Ten found that Michigan conducted an in-person scouting operation over multiple years. As a result, coach Jim Harbaugh is barred from attending any Michigan games for the rest of the season.
The conference announced Friday that the Wolverines, ranked No. 2 in the College Football Playoff standings, violated its sportsmanship policy, "resulting in an unfair competitive advantage."
The terms of the punishment are:
"The University football team must compete without its Head Football Coach for the games remaining in the 2023 regular-season, effective immediately. This disciplinary action shall not preclude the University or its football team from having its Head Football Coach attend practices or other football team activities other than the game activities to which it applies. For clarity, the Head Football Coach shall not be present at the game venue on the dates of the games to which this disciplinary action applies."
This means Harbaugh will miss The Game against Ohio State on Nov. 25.
He was disciplined by less than 24 hours before the Wolverines play at Penn State. The embattled coach was seen getting on the plane with the team shortly before the punishment was announced.
“Like all members of the Big Ten Conference, we are entitled to a fair, deliberate, and thoughtful process to determine the full set of facts before a judgment is rendered," the school said. "Today’s action by Commissioner Tony Petitti disregards the conference’s own handbook, violates basic tenets of due process, and sets an untenable precedent of assessing penalties before an investigation has been completed.”
Michigan said it was prepared to take possible legal action if the conference punished the football program before a full investigation into allegations of an impermissible scouting and sign-stealing operation, the Associated Press reported earlier this week.
The school sent a letter to Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti, warning him about overstepping his authority and rushing to judgment.
A court order before Saturday's game is unlikely due to Friday being recognized as a federal holiday since Veterans Day is Saturday, meaning courts are closed.
Harbaugh has denied any knowledge of the sign-stealing scheme. Earlier this year, he served a school-imposed, three-game suspension for an unrelated NCAA infractions case.
Connor Stalions, the Michigan staff at the center of the NCAA investigation, resigned a week ago. His attorney, in a statement to The Athletic, said his client chose to resign because stories about him have created a distraction for Michigan.
The Associated Press originally reported a source as saying Stalions, who was suspended with pay, had been fired. That source said he failed to show up for a scheduled hearing last week and informed the school through his attorney he would not participate in any internal or external investigations.
The Associated Press contributed