Report: Jim Harbaugh Not Acknowledging Alleged Lying Will Extend Michigan's NCAA Case

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 19, 2023

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Jim Harbaugh and J.J. McCarthy #9 of the Michigan Wolverines are seen during warmups prior to the game against the TCU Horned Frogs in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh has reportedly refused to acknowledge that he lied to NCAA investigators during their inquiry into four potential Level II violations, per Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel.

According to ESPN's Pete Thamel, that decision "presents an interesting standoff between Harbaugh and the NCAA, one that could potentially drag out for nearly a year, per the typical NCAA enforcement and appeals timeline. For now, there appears to be little chance for a negotiated resolution."

Per Wetzel, Harbaugh has "acknowledged his program committed four Level II violations" and apologized to Michigan but has "refused to sign any document or publicly state that he was ever untruthful with the enforcement staff."

Harbaugh has reportedly stated he didn't remember the events the NCAA laid out to him as potential violations but didn't purposefully mislead investigators.

Michigan stands accused of four potential Level II violations:

  • Meeting with two recruits during an NCAA-mandated dead period.
  • Texting with a recruit during a dead period. 
  • Analysts acting as coaches on the practice field. 
  • Coaches watching Zoom workouts by players.

Lying to NCAA investigators is a far more serious infraction and considered a Level I violation.

Thamel noted that had Harbaugh admitted to lying to investigators, he would have likely faced a "multiple-game suspension," with Wetzel adding it could be up to a six-game suspension and include restrictions on recruiting. Additionally, the case is unlikely to be completed before the 2023 season, meaning that potential suspension likely would be served during the 2024 campaign.

That could lead to renewed speculation that Harbaugh will once again toy with the idea of jumping to the NFL in a year, something he briefly entertained in each of the past two offseasons.

At the least, it will be a protracted storyline surrounding the program should the standoff between Harbaugh and the NCAA persist.