Soon after the Big Ten suspended University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh on Friday for the remaining three games of the 2023 regular season for allegedly stealing signs, the school responded swiftly saying that it would seek a court order to prevent the disciplinary action from taking effect — and to keep their coach on the sidelines.
Michigan issued a statement, and was predictably critical of the decision. School president Santa Ono said that the action by Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti “disregards the conference’s own handbook, violates basic tenets of due process, and sets an untenable precedent of assessing penalties before an investigation has been completed.”
Ono questioned the timing of the decision, noting that Saturday is Veterans Day, a court holiday and said it prevents Michigan “from seeking immediate judicial relief.”
The Big Ten and Petitti are listed as defendants in Michigan and Harbaugh’s emergency temporary restraining order request that was filed late Friday night.
Washtenaw County judge Timothy P. Connors — a Michigan alumnus and a current lecturer at Michigan’s law school — was the first assigned to the case. It is now in front of Judge Carol Kunhke, who is also a Michigan alumna, but is not a lecturer and is not currently getting paid by the school.
Judge Kuhnke is the judge who ruled against Connor Stalions in his HOA’s lawsuit against him.
The Big Ten cited “an impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years” in a 13-page letter given to school officials, contending that Michigan violated the conference’s sportsmanship policy. Harbaugh, who is 83-25 in nine years in Ann Arbor, has denied any knowledge of an improper scouting scheme.
The news of Harbaugh’s ban dropped less than 24 hours before the second-ranked Wolverines’ critical showdown on the road against No. 9 Penn State. Michigan, 9-0, is vying for a third consecutive Big Ten title as well as its first national championship since 1997.
For now, the Big Ten’s statement noted that Harbaugh will be allowed to attend practices and team activities, but is not allowed to be in the stadium on gamedays.