In fact, the conference has notified Michigan that it could take disciplinary action against the school, according to reports by multiple outlets. The Big Ten reportedly has the authority to discipline a member school through its sportsmanship policy.
Michigan has until Wednesday to respond to the notice of potential discipline. If the Big Ten does punish Michigan, including a potential suspension of head coach Jim Harbaugh, the school is expected to push back through legal means, according to multiple outlets, including ESPN.
Meanwhile, athletic director Warde Manuel said on Monday that he will not travel to Texas to take part in College Football Playoff selection committee meetings on Tuesday.
“I will not travel to our weekly meeting in Dallas but instead will stay in Ann Arbor, attending to important matters regarding the ongoing investigation into our football program,” Manuel’s statement read, according to ESPN. “I look forward to being back in the room with my fellow committee members next week and every week through the end of the season.”
Earlier on Monday, The Associated Press reported that a former employee at a rival Big Ten football program said it was his job to steal signs, and that he was given details from multiple league schools to compile a spreadsheet of Michigan’s play-calling signals used last year, further complicating things.
The employee said he recently shared the documents, which showed the Wolverines’ signs and corresponding plays — as well as screenshots of text-message exchanges with staffers at other Big Ten schools — with Michigan. He spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he feared the disclosures could impact his coaching career.
Michigan shared the documents from the former Big Ten football program staffer and related content with the Big Ten on Friday, according to a person familiar with the situation speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to share the details.
On the same day, school President Santa Ono and athletic director Warde Manuel met with Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti.
The conference gave the school until early this week to respond to allegations and evidence it was presented, another person with knowledge of the situation said. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Big Ten was not making its dealings with Michigan public.
Petitti met by video call with Big Ten coaches and athletic directors last week, and they talked about possible punishments for Michigan, focusing on a potential suspension of Harbaugh and other coaches.
Ono sent an email to Petitti, imploring the conference to wait for results of the NCAA investigation before potentially taking action against the program. Big Ten coaches have called for some kind of immediate punishment, but the league, according to Ono, has not begun its own investigation.
“We are aware that other representatives of the Big Ten are demanding that you take action now, before any meaningful investigation and full consideration of all the evidence,” Ono wrote to Petitti. “And we both know it is not what any other member would want if allegations were raised against their people or programs.”
The NCAA doesn’t outlaw sign-stealing, but it has rules against in-person scouting, and some of the allegations against Michigan suggest an organized and well-funded approach. Harbaugh has denied any knowledge of the scheme and the school says it is cooperating with the NCAA.
Last week, Michigan employee Connor Stalions resigned two weeks after he was suspended by Michigan. Stalions’ attorney said his client did not want to be a distraction for the team.
Stalions said, via his attorney, that to his knowledge none of the Michigan coaches told anyone to break rules or were aware of improper conduct when it came to advance scouting. Harbaugh served a three-game, university-imposed suspension earlier this season for an unrelated and still unresolved NCAA violations case tied to recruiting.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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