After an NCAA investigation regarding Michigan football recruiting activities, it's looking like head coach Jim Harbaugh will be facing a four-game suspension for a Level I violation, according to Ross Dellenger with Yahoo! Sports.
News of disciplinary action potentially coming Harbaugh's way broke back in January around Michigan's appearance in the College Football Playoff, but the events in question took place back during the COVID-19 period, during which the NCAA instituted a recruiting dead period.
Why Is Jim Harbaugh Being Suspended?
The whole affair has been labeled by some as "burger gate" as the charges are rumored to center around a meeting between Harbaugh and a recruit at the popular Ann Arbor restaurant The Brown Jug, at which the twice-defending Big Ten Champion coach allegedly purchased a cheeseburger for the recruit. The severity of the situation has to do with not only with the interaction itself, but also the possibility that Harbaugh lied and failed to adequately cooperate during the initial investigation, and then refused to admit to the dishonesty later on. That investigation involved four less-serious Level II violations, but those do not appear to be a major factor in the NCAA's decision-making process on this item.
The four-game suspension is not official yet, but the rumblings are that the coach, university, and NCAA have been working together towards an agreed-upon punishment deemed appropriate for the situation. Harbaugh's attorney, Thomas Mars, released a statement on the matter, saying that Harbaugh's camp is "continuing to work cooperatively with the NCAA staff on an enforcement matter," also noting that they are "not allowed to comment on possible penalties or other aspects of the matter."
If and when these exact terms are confirmed, that would mean that Michigan would be without Harbaugh on the sidelines for their first four games of the season. The opponents for those four games, all played at home for Michigan, are East Carolina, UNLV, Bowling Green, and Rutgers in Michigan's Big Ten opener. The Wolverines should be expected to breeze through all four matchups with or without Harbaugh, but there are no free wins in college football, so they will not be happy about running a ship missing its captain to start the 2023 campaign.
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