On Saturday, Yahoo Sports reported that a “negotiated solution” between the NCAA and Jim Harbaugh had collapsed.
Per the agreement, Harbaugh will be suspended for the first four games of Michigan’s 2023 season after the NCAA alleged he wasn’t forthcoming with investigators (which is called a Level I violation) when questioned about lesser Level II violations.
The deal between Michigan/Harbaugh and NCAA law enforcement still needs to be approved by a three-person panel made up of the NCAA’s Commission on Infractions (COI). They refused.
Now the case is likely headed to a full hearing, possibly in 2024. Unless Michigan forces a suspension on its coach, Harbaugh is expected to be on the sidelines for the duration of the Wolverine season.
Anyway, after the news broke, Michigan issued the following statement.
We cannot comment as this is still an ongoing issue.
Meanwhile, Harbou has said nothing publicly and his attorney, Tom Mars, stated, “At this time, we are not permitted to comment on potential penalties or other aspects of the matter.”
But the NCAA sent out a statement, and he was absent.
“The Michigan infraction case is about impermissible recruiting on and off campus during the COVID-19 death period and impermissible coaching activities — not a cheeseburger,” said NCAA Vice President Derek Crawford. negotiated solution) if he decides that the agreement is not in the interest of the association or that the penalties are not reasonable…”
The statement continued, but the fact that there was a statement was the news. Michigan can’t comment and Herbaugh can’t comment but… the NCAA can comment?
“In accordance with the NCAA’s internal operating procedures, and under threat of sanctions, Michigan, the coaches involved, and their attorneys are prohibited from speaking about this ongoing case,” Mars wrote on social media after the NCAA statement was released.
“However, can the NCAA issue a public statement highlighting the issue?” Follow Mars. “Not real.”
The NCAA’s statement was, in fact, so unrealistic as to not seem real. Yet it was.
Not only was the case resolved, but the NCAA didn’t even deliver an actual notice of allegations (a kind of indictment) to Michigan formally charging anyone with anything. However, the NCAA Vice President decided to list some of the allegations against Harbaugh… however did not say that they were “alleged”. Crawford simply presented them as facts.
Since the NCAA’s negotiated settlement process is limited to the enforcement staff (a type of plaintiff) and Michigan/Harbaugh (the defense), the details of the case will presumably remain unknown to the infractions committee (the jury) until the hearing (the trial).
However, the NCAA has a vice president who issues a statement?
And yes, you can close your eyes to this phony justice system and think it’s ridiculous. However, remember, no one is as obsessed with rules and procedures as the NCAA. Crawford’s statement likely violated at least two of the NCAA’s own regulations – 5.16.1 and 19.3.1 (we’ll provide you with the details). The NCAA is supposed to act as a fair arbiter of its agreed rules. This was unusual.
It gets worse, of course. Crawford states – at the outset – that the crux of the issue is “not a cheeseburger”.
This is applause for a rallying cry for Michigan fans that the entire saga is a fabrication and that the most outrageous thing Harbaugh and his assistants were alleged to have done was buy some recruits a cheeseburger at Ann Arbor. It has been replicated on social media and message boards as evidence of the NCAA’s incompetence in catching more outrageous cheaters.
Crawford is right. The issue is not about a cheeseburger. It relates to the claim that Harbaugh was wrong in dealing with the investigators. If he is guilty, NCAA rules—which Harbaugh agreed to abide by—dictate that he must be sanctioned at least six games.
And the rules he broke are legitimate. Every sports league — the NFL, NBA, etc. — has laws about when you can train players, bring in potential free agents or what is allowed in workouts. This may not be a big case, but it’s not a “nothing” case either.
The thing is, Harbaugh never came out and argued publicly that this was just a “cheeseburger.” Neither Michigan nor anyone associated with the case in any official capacity. They stuck to “no comment”.
The NCAA argues with message board posters.
“Not a cheeseburger” implies that the NCAA is so embarrassed by the raffle it receives online, that it is intent on hitting Harbaugh harder than his law enforcement officials think is acceptable.
How could anyone, let alone Jim Harbaugh, take it seriously or expect a fair process?
It is assumed that Harbaugh broke some rules and is in line with a certain level of punishment, but this has yet to be proven. Kangaroo court, meanwhile, is kangaroo court, and the NCAA has indicated, publicly, that kangaroo court is exactly what he’s been waiting for.
No, this is not about a cheeseburger. After Saturday’s NCAA statement, it’s clearly much bigger than that.