Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is "believed to be" on the road to accepting a four-game suspension to start the 2023 college football season as part of a negotiated resolution between the program and the NCAA, sources tell CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd. Harbaugh is accused of providing false or misleading information to the NCAA during an investigation into alleged recruiting violations made in 2021 during an extended recruiting dead period stemming from COVID-19.
"We are continuing to work cooperatively with the NCAA staff on an enforcement matter," Harbaugh's attorney, Tom Mars, told ESPN. "At this time, we are not allowed to comment on possible penalties or other aspects of the matter."
The NCAA alleges that Harbaugh lied to investigators during an initial meeting about the violations. Dishonesty to investigators is a separate Level I violation in the NCAA's rulebook. It appeared as if the parties were headed towards a resolution in the matter earlier this year; however, while those negotiations were ongoing, Harbaugh refused to sign a document admitting that he was dishonest during that first meeting.
The Wolverines coach has consistently maintained that he was not purposefully dishonest; rather, he claims he did not remember the events that led to the recruiting violations. Harbaugh's penalty will almost assuredly be harsher than what it would have been if the NCAA believed he cooperated from the onset as all four violations were of the Level II variety.
Multiple Wolverines assistants, including offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore and tight ends coach Grant Newsome, are expected to receive some form of punishment from the NCAA stemming from this investigation. Former Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who left the program to join John Harbaugh in the same position for the Baltimore Ravens, is reportedly in line for a one-year show-cause penalty that would stymie a return to college athletics.
Last year, the NCAA notified Michigan of the four alleged Level II violations. Those included meeting with two recruits during the COVID-19 dead period and texting a recruit outside of a permitted window. Beyond the recruiting violations, the Wolverines are accused of having analysts perform on-field coaching duties during practice with coaches monitoring player workouts via Zoom. Level II violations are defined by the NCAA as "less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage."
Yahoo Sports first reported the expected Harbaugh suspension.