Michigan and coach Jim Harbaugh have agreed to the Big Ten’s three-game suspension of the Wolverines coach, the school announced Thursday, which means Harbaugh will not coach Saturday at Maryland or in the regular-season finale against rival Ohio State.
According to the statement, the Big Ten agreed to close its investigation, which means there won’t be a hearing Friday morning as was planned at the Washtenaw County Courthouse. The case has been formally dismissed in Washtenaw County Court.
“This morning, the University, Coach Harbaugh, and the Big Ten resolved their pending litigation,” the university’s statement read. “The Conference agreed to close its investigation, and the University and Coach Harbaugh agreed to accept the three-game suspension. Coach Harbaugh, with the University’s support, decided to accept this sanction to return the focus to our student-athletes and their performance on the field. The Conference has confirmed that it is not aware of any information suggesting Coach Harbaugh’s involvement in the allegations. The University continues to cooperate fully with the NCAA’s investigation.”
The Big Ten also released a statement Thursday saying that Michigan withdrew its “legal challenge.” Attorneys representing Michigan and Harbaugh had initially filed a motion asking for an emergency temporary restraining order along with a breach of contract complaint. The hearing Friday morning was scheduled so Michigan attorneys could try to argue before a judge their reasons to have Harbaugh reinstated. The Big Ten statement said the “commissioner’s duty to protect the integrity of competition will never waiver.”
“Today’s decision by the University of Michigan to withdraw its legal challenge against the Conference’s November 10th Notice of Disciplinary Action is indicative of the high standards and values that the Conference and the university seek to uphold,” the Big Ten’s statement read. “The University of Michigan is a valued member of the Big Ten Conference, and the Conference will continue to work cooperatively with the university and the NCAA during this process.”
The legal battle began last Friday after Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti announced the league was suspending Harbaugh for the final three games of Michigan’s regular season because the football program violated the league’s sportsmanship policy.
The Big Ten found that Michigan violated its policy by “conducting an impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years, resulting in an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition,” according to the league’s original statement.
Harbaugh has served one game of the suspension, as he watched last week’s win at Penn State from a hotel roughly 20 minutes away. Michigan would earn its 1,000th win Saturday if it beats the Terps. Defensive line coach Mike Elston said “for [Harbaugh] not to be a part of that would be an absolute shame.”
Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, who coached the Wolverines to the win at Penn State, will again serve as interim head coach.
“I would say to me, and to everybody else, that would be his win,” Moore said this week of a possible 1,000th program victory. “It wouldn’t count as mine. He’s the head coach of this football team and I’m just standing in there to make sure we don’t mess it up.”