The Big Ten Conference announced Friday it was suspending Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh from being on the sidelines at games for the remainder of the regular season after it found Harbaugh and his staff conducted an illegal sign-stealing operation.
Harbaugh’s suspension only applies to game days, meaning he can still coach practices, and it only applies to the regular season, meaning if the team qualifies for the postseason he can return, including for the Big Ten championship game.
Harbaugh is not allowed to be at the venue on game day for the remaining three games after this Big Ten ruling.
The Big Ten called Michigan’s sign-stealing operation “an impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years, resulting in an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition.”
The Big Ten announced an NCAA investigation into Michigan’s alleged illicit sign-stealing operation on Oct. 19, ESPN reported. The investigation centered around team staff member Connor Stalions, who allegedly purchased tickets to more than 30 college football games over the past three years and sent people to those games, the Detroit Free Press reported. Those people allegedly filmed the coaching staff and sideline of one of the teams the entire game in an apparent attempt to determine the team’s playcalling and signals. Stalions was initially temporarily suspended, but ultimately resigned from his job last week. Scouting future opponents in-person has been banned in NCAA football since 1994, according to ESPN.
What To Watch For
How Michigan’s season moves forward. The undefeated Michigan Wolverines, the No. 3 team in the College Football Playoff rankings, will play No. 10 Penn State on Saturday without their head coach. Michigan is 9-0 and a strong contender to both win the Big Ten and compete for the national championship in the College Football Playoffs. Penn State is 8-1, and Ohio State, which is tied with Michigan for first place in the Big Ten, is 9-0. After Penn State, Michigan will have to play Maryland and Ohio State without Harbaugh.
Michigan has indicated it will challenge this suspension in court, potentially by requesting a temporary restraining order against the decision, which would allow Harbuagh to coach in-person Saturday, ESPN reported, citing anonymous sources.