Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has been suspended from the sidelines for the rest of the season by the Big Ten as a disciplinary measure under its sportsmanship policy.
The NCAA also has an ongoing investigation into the school’s in-person sign-stealing ring.
Harbaugh and the university have requested a temporary restraining order in Washtenaw County Trial Court.
They filed an emergency ex parte motion. If the judge grants the motion, he could stop Harbaugh’s suspension before hearing arguments from the defendants.
If Harbaugh’s restraining order is not granted, Michigan could have an acting head coach in Happy Valley which would be Mike Hart, the team’s running backs coach.
Michigan was found to violate the Big Ten’s sportsmanship policy for “conducting an impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years, resulting in an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition,” the conference said in a statement.
In a 13-page letter sent to Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, Petitti said that to sanction the university, he decided to suspend Harbaugh because it would allow the team to play out the rest of its season while still providing substantial consequences for it violating the Big Ten’s policies.
“This is not a sanction of Coach Harbaugh,” the conference said in its report. “It is a sanction against the University that, under the extraordinary circumstance presented by this offensive conduct, best fits the violation.”
Harbaugh can coach his team for the rest of the week, but he is not allowed to do any coach duties on game days.
Michigan President Santa Ono is not happy with the situation.
“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,” Ono said in a statement.
“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. We are dismayed at the Commissioner’s rush to judgment when there is an ongoing NCAA investigation — one in which we are fully cooperating.”
The NCAA stated after the discipline was announced that it takes “competition integrity seriously.”
“When the Association has reason to raise time-sensitive issues with schools and leagues concerning competitive integrity it has and will continue to do so,” the NCAA’s statement read.
“The NCAA received consent from the school before sharing the information referenced in the document. NCAA investigative and infractions processes will continue in this matter.”