Ruling Made In Jim Harbaugh's TRO Request Amid Suspension
By Jason Hall
November 11, 2023
Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh's request for a temporary restraining order amid his Big Ten Conference mandated suspension has reportedly been denied, which means he will remain prohibited from coaching in Saturday's (November 11) game against Penn State, a person familiar with the court filings confirmed to ESPN's Pete Thamel hours before kickoff.
"There will not be a ruling today in Jim Harbaugh's request for a temporary restraining order, according to a person familiar with the court filings. This means Jim Harbaugh will not coach at Penn State today," Thamel wrote on his X account. "The official wording on the ruling: 'No order will be signed at this time.'"
Thamel initially reported the Big Ten Conference's decision to suspend Harbaugh, 59, from the team's sideline until the conclusion of the 2023 college football regular season in relation to an ongoing investigation into sign-stealing allegations. The Big Ten later confirmed its decision in a statement obtained by Thamel.
From Big Ten: "As a penalty imposed on the institution, the University football team must compete without its Head Football Coach for the games remaining in the 2023 regular-season, effective immediately. This disciplinary action shall not preclude the University or its football… https://t.co/F8d3aXoz9J— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) November 10, 2023
"As a penalty imposed on the institution, the University football team must compete without its Head Football Coach for the games remaining in the 2023 regular-season, effective immediately. This disciplinary action shall not preclude the University or its football team from having its Head Football Coach attend practices or other football team activities," the conference said.
The undefeated No. 3 overall Wolverines were flying to College Station, Pennsylvania, for Saturday's (November 11) game against the Penn State Nittany Lions and hadn't been notified about the potential discipline at the time of Thamel's report. Michigan has games remaining on its regular season schedule including Saturday's game against Penn State, a November 18 matchup at Maryland and the November 25 game against arch rival Ohio State.
The NCAA launched its investigation into the Michigan football program over alleged sign-stealing in October. The Wolverines are reportedly accused of violating NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1, which prohibits “Off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season)." Big Ten Conference officials said they were notified about the NCAA's investigation into the Michigan football program, a spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo Sports at the time.
The NCAA is reportedly looking into whether the Wolverines used former low-level staffer Connor Stalions to attend games of scheduled opponents and potential College Football Playoff opponents, to gather information used for both offensive and defensive plays. Stalions was suspended by the NCAA and Big Ten Conference amid reports of the investigation and resigned two weeks later, though denied that Harbugh nor any other coaching staffer told anyone to knowingly break any rules.
In August, the University of Michigan issued a self-imposed three-game suspension for Harbaugh in relation prior reported NCAA violations.
Harbaugh was issued a level one violation, which is considered to be "severe breach of conduct," for allegedly misleading investigators during a probe into accusations that he had improper contact with a recruit, which escalated his actions from a level 2 violation, which is deemed a "significant breach of conduct," according to NCAA guidelines. The University of Michigan and the NCAA were previously working on a four-game suspension which were reportedly rejected by the committee on infractions.
Harbaugh was accused of buying a recruit a burger during the COVID-related dead period, which has led to a debate on the severity of the punishment.
“The Michigan infractions case is related to impermissible on and off-campus recruiting during the COVID-19 dead period and impermissible coaching activities — not a cheeseburger,” said Derrick Crawford, the NCAA vice president of hearing operations, via On3.com. “It is not uncommon for the COI to seek clarification on key facts prior to accepting.
“The COI may also reject a [negotiated resolution] if it determines that the agreement is not in the best interests of the Association or the penalties are not reasonable. If the involved parties cannot resolve a case through the negotiated resolution process, it may proceed to a hearing, but the committee believes cooperation is the best avenue to quickly resolve issues.”
Harbaugh missed the first three games of Michigan's season, which included wins ECU, UNLV and Bowling Green. The Wolverines are currently in their best stretch since Harbaugh -- a former Michigan quarterback -- took over as the head coach of his alma mater in 2015. Harbaugh had publicly announced his intention to stay with the Wolverines in January amid reported potential interest from NFL teams prior to the initial report of his violations.