COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH/AP) — The NCAA is investigating allegations of sign stealing by the University of Michigan football team, according to Big Ten Conference.
The Big Ten released a statement Thursday stating it was notified of the investigation by the NCAA late Wednesday afternoon.
The Big Ten Conference has notified Michigan State University and future opponents. The Big Ten Conference considers the integrity of competition to be of utmost importance and will continue to monitor the investigation. The Conference will have no further comment at this time.Big Ten statement
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh served a three-game suspension to start this season as part of self-imposed penalties for NCAA recruiting infractions.
Michigan had proposed a four-game suspension as part of a negotiated resolution to the case with NCAA enforcement staff, but the association’s committee on infractions (COI) reportedly declined to accept that proposal. Without confirming the status of the negotiated resolution, which was submitted by Michigan to the NCAA last month, the NCAA put out a terse statement in response to reports that the settlement was in danger of not being accepted.
“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,” Derrick Crawford, NCAA vice president of hearing operations, said in a statement. “It is not uncommon for the COI to seek clarification on key facts prior to accepting. The COI may also reject an NR if it determines that the agreement is not in the best interests of the Association or the penalties are not reasonable.”
The cheeseburger mention is in reference to speculation by Michigan fans that gained traction online that the alleged infractions were related to Michigan coaches paying for a recruit’s lunch during a dead-period visit.
Michigan self-imposing Harbaugh’s three-game suspension did not end the case. It is unclear whether Michigan has even received an official notice of allegations from the NCAA. Without a negotiated resolution, the case would need to go before the committee on infractions before a ruling is handed down.
That whole process could take months to complete and would likely stretch into 2024. Schools usually self-impose penalties as a way to get out in front of the NCAA, show cooperation, and mitigate some of the damages of an eventual punishment.
The investigation involved impermissible texts and calls — including some by Harbaugh — to high school prospects during part of a pandemic-related dead period for contact with potential recruits. The NCAA also was looking at whether a member of Michigan’s off-field football staff violated rules by doing on-the-field coaching during practice.
The negotiated resolution Michigan submitted to the NCAA also included one-game suspensions for offensive coordinator and line coach Sherrone Moore and tight ends coach Grant Newsome. The status of those penalties is also unclear.
Harbaugh previously told NCAA investigators in multiple meetings that he would not agree to an unethical conduct charge for not being forthright, according to two people familiar with the situation. The people spoke earlier this year to the AP on condition of anonymity because details of the investigation have not been shared.
Harbaugh has flirted with the NFL after each of Michigan’s last two postseason runs only to recommit to the school where he played quarterback in the early 1990s.