Michigan’s NCAA infractions case projects a prolonged path to resolution after football coach Jim Harbaugh’s refusal during multiple meetings with the NCAA this week to acknowledge that he had lied to NCAA investigators, a source confirmed to ESPN on Thursday.
During an attempt to expedite the case and achieve a “negotiated resolution,” Harbaugh refused to acknowledge that he had lied to NCAA investigators, a source confirmed. He has maintained that he doesn’t remember the incident in question, which has led to a standstill in the case.
Yahoo Sports first reported these details, which included two meetings with the NCAA this week.
An admission that Harbaugh had lied would likely have led to him accepting a multiple-game suspension, as he faces a potential Level I NCAA violation. The initial investigation into Michigan included four Level II recruiting violations, which are less significant in scope and punishment.
But the potential Level I was added, as ESPN previously reported, as part of a more serious charge for not cooperating with the NCAA enforcement staff.
This presents an interesting standoff between Harbaugh and the NCAA, one that could potentially drag out for nearly a year, per the typical NCAA enforcement and appeals timeline. For now, there appears to be little chance for a negotiated resolution, a source told ESPN.
This means Michigan faces the belabored proceedings of an NCAA case, with the specter of Harbaugh’s expected multigame suspension likely looming over the start of the 2024 season. There’s little chance that NCAA enforcement can execute the case before the start of the 2023 season.
ESPN confirmed Yahoo’s reporting that there’s essentially an impasse between Harbaugh and the NCAA, as Harbaugh says he doesn’t recall the incident in question and the NCAA is insisting he lied.
That leaves Michigan facing an infractions process counter to the program’s preferred “Michigan Man” image of integrity. Since an undefeated regular season in 2022, a thumping of Ohio State in Columbus, winning the Big Ten title and losing in the College Football Playoff to TCU, Michigan has been mired in controversy.
Harbaugh interviewed for the Denver Broncos job, but then communicated with university president Santa Ono — not athletic director Warde Manuel — that he intended to stay. The announcement of Harbaugh staying came from Ono’s Twitter feed, fueling the notion that there’s a rift between Harbaugh and Manuel. Harbaugh doubled down on that by mentioning Ono by name in his statement and leaving out Manuel.
Although Harbaugh’s return has been celebrated, nothing new has emerged contractually to back up the words.
Along with the NCAA drama and Harbaugh’s annual dance with the NFL, Michigan put co-offensive coordinator Matt Weiss on leave amid a police investigation into a “report of computer access crimes” at the team’s football facility. Weiss’ future with the program is uncertain, and he told ESPN he’s cooperating fully with the legal investigation.