NCAA Expected to Drop the Hammer on No. 3 Michigan Wolverines for Suspected Cheating

The Big Ten has suspended Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh from the sidelines for the remainder of the season amid allegations the school engaged in a widespread effort to steal signs from its opponents. The third-ranked, undefeated Wolverines have been embroiled in controversy for weeks amid reports that now-former team staffer Connor Stalions attended games of the team’s opponents with the intent to steal signs in order to give the team an advantage. Stalions resigned from the school last week. He was spotted or confirmed to have been at games featuring opponents the Wolverines were either scheduled to play this season or who were buzzed about as potential College Football Playoff opponents. The alleged scheme also took place last year but the school was unable to overcome TCU in the semifinal in a thriller to go on to compete for a national title. According to ESPN, the Big Ten found that Michigan had violated its sportsmanship policy after having conducted “an impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years, resulting in an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition.” Further punishments, fines and/or suspensions are a distinct possibility, as the investigation continues. (Michigan is under NCAA investigation for a separate, unrelated recruiting violation, which is expected to be resolved in 2024.) For the remainder of the regular season, Harbaugh will not be on the sidelines on Saturday. The conference did say he could coach throughout the week for the next three games, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported. As of Friday afternoon, it was not clear who would serve as the head coach on an interim basis in Harbaugh’s absence. Michigan is reportedly seeking an emergency court order that would allow Harbaugh to coach this weekend. ESPN further reported: “The Big Ten’s punishment is institutional, not for Harbaugh, but the head coach is serving the penalty. His suspension only bans him from the sideline on game day, as he’s allowed to coach the team the remainder of the week. “Harbaugh’s status for [Michigan’s Saturday afternoon game] against Penn State could come down to a court ruling, as Michigan sources have indicated for days they have been preparing to legally fight any decision by the Big Ten that involves punitive discipline. The most likely avenue would be filing for a temporary restraining order, which could allow Harbaugh to coach Saturday.” Harbaugh has said he was unaware Stalions was scouting opponents with the intent to steal signals. It is worth noting that stealing signals is not illegal in college football per se. It is illegal to steal signs via in-person scouting (which Michigan stands accused of) and to communicate stolen signs through electronic equipment (which Michigan does not seem to have run afoul of.) Michigan, 9-0, plays Penn State on Saturday on the road and will travel to Maryland the week after. The team will conclude its regular season on Nov. 25, hosting the country’s number one ranked team and fierce conference rival, Ohio State.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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