Amid his saga with the NCAA, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will step away from the sidelines for a portion of the Wolverines' 2023 season after all. Despite recent expectations that Harbaugh with his NCAA case not yet resolved, Michigan has instead imposed a three-game suspension for Harbaugh to start the season as punishment for a Level I violation, the school announced Monday.
"While the ongoing NCAA matter continues through the NCAA process, today's announcement is our way of addressing mistakes that our department has agreed to in an attempt to further that process," Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement. "We will continue to support coach Harbaugh, his staff, and our outstanding student-athletes. Per the NCAA's guidelines, we cannot comment further until the matter is resolved."
Four assistants will split head coaching duties during Harbaugh's three game absence. Harbaugh appointed defensive coordinator Jesse Minter as the game day coach against East Carolina (Sept. 2). Offensive coordinator Coach Sherrone Moore will handle head coaching duties against Bowling Green (Sept. 16). For the Sept. 9 game against UNLV, special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh will be the team's head coach in the first half and running backs coach Mike Hart will take over after halftime.
"I'm certain that all will be impressed with the four coaches' ability to direct and manage the game," said Harbaugh. "It's been well documented that we have a very talented coaching staff and I believe that all 10 assistant coaches will be head coaches in the near future. They are all capable of leading a team at an elite level. I know that everyone will handle their responsibilities and help our players to be the best version of themselves on and off the field this fall and beyond."
Talk of a suspension has been looming for some time even as the Wolverines enter 2023 as the. A to start the season was on the table, but negotiations with the NCAA stalled in August. Without a resolution, the matter could carry well into 2024.
Harbaugh is accused of providing false or misleading information to the NCAA, which is considered a Level I violation. The NCAA initially launched an investigation into alleged Level II violations made by Michigan's staff during an NCAA-mandated COVID-19 recruiting dead period 2021. Among them: Harbaugh contacted two prospects during the dead period and held Michigan practices with too many coaches on the field.
A potential resolution to the matter broke down in January when Harbaugh denied lying to investigators. Though Harbaugh admitted some Level II violations occurred, he remains adamant that didn't intend to mislead investigators.
Harbaugh, 59, is 74-25 since taking over at Michigan in time for the 2015 season. The Wolverines' pair of Big Ten championship seasons under his watch in 2021 and 2022 also saw Michigan reach the College Football Playoff semifinals each time. With his three-game suspension, Harbaugh will miss the season opener against East Carolina, UNLV in Week 2 and Bowling Green in Week 3 -- all at home.