The Big Ten's case against Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is closed.
Harbaugh agreed to serve his full his three-game suspension, the first of which was served last week against Penn State. The Big Ten suspended Harbaugh the day before the Penn State game after it said it had “uncontroverted” evidence of an in-person sign-stealing scheme.
Michigan initially requested a stay against the Big Ten’s ruling in Washtenaw County (Mich.) court. A hearing on Michigan’s request to get Harbaugh back on the sideline was scheduled for Nov. 17. That hearing was canceled as the Big Ten agreed to close its investigation.
Harbaugh will now be suspended for this weekend's game at Maryland and the following week's monumental matchup against rival Ohio State. He'll be eligible to coach any subsequence postseason games, including a potential Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff.
While an NCAA investigation is still ongoing, the Big Ten's case against Harbaugh is settled. Here's a look at how all the events have unfolded over the past month that have gotten us to this point.
Oct. 18: NCAA informs Big Ten of in-person scouting allegations
In a meeting the Big Ten said had “several extraordinary aspects,” NCAA president Charlie Baker had a call with the conference and Michigan where he said the NCAA had “highly credible evidence of a wide-ranging, multi-year in-person, off-campus scouting scheme orchestrated by a non-coaching staff member of the University’s football program.”
On Oct. 19, Yahoo Sports reported on the existence of the investigation. According to Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti’s letter to Michigan on Nov. 10, what was detailed in the call “were a clear statement from the NCAA that the nature and reliability of the evidence they had received indicated that the improper scheme relating to the University’s football team was ongoing and created a substantial risk of compromising the integrity of football competitions this season.”
The same day as Yahoo’s report, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said in a statement released that evening that “I do not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signs, nor have I directed any staff member or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment.”
Oct. 20: Connor Stalions suspended with pay
Two days after the call, Yahoo Sports named Michigan analyst Connor Stalions as a central figure of the in-person scouting allegations and detailed how other Big Ten schools were aware of the scheme.
“He spearheads the operation,” a Big Ten coach told Yahoo’s Ross Dellenger. “I once told [Stalions], ‘We know what kind of sh** you are doing and it’s f***** up.’”
Oct. 24: Yahoo Sports reveals Stalions purchases tickets to non-Big Ten games
The in-person scouting scheme was not limited to Big Ten opponents. In addition to purchasing tickets to games involving other Big Ten teams, Yahoo Sports revealed that Stalions had also purchased tickets to games featuring teams that Michigan may play in the College Football Playoff.
Two days later, Yahoo reported that TCU — Michigan’s semifinal opponent in the College Football Playoff — was aware of Stalions’ actions and had changed its signals ahead of the playoff. TCU beat Michigan to advance to the national title game.
Oct. 31: Central Michigan announces investigation into who was on sideline
Central Michigan said on Halloween that it was “in the process of determining the facts” regarding a picture of a man who looked like Stalions dressed in Central Michigan gear on the sideline of the team’s season-opening game against Michigan State in September.
Michigan beat Michigan State 49-0 in Week 8. The game happened after Stalions was suspended.
Nov. 2: Big Ten meets with Michigan and lays out 'uncontroverted' evidence
In a conference call involving administrators from the school and the NCAA, the Big Ten said the NCAA “informed the Conference and the University that, based on its investigation and the evidence it had collected, the NCAA ‘knew and could prove’” many things about Michigan’s in-person scouting operation. Those aspects included how Stalions “participated in and coordinated a vast off-campus, in-person advance scouting scheme,” he and others “video recorded signs used by future University opponents while attending the opponents’ games in person” and that during Michigan games, Stalions “was present on the University’s sidelines, dressed similarly to University coaches, in close proximity to University coaches, and he communicated directly with such coaches.”
The Big Ten then held a call with the other athletic directors in the conference as leaders at other schools urged the conference to take action against Michigan.
Later that night, the Big Ten said Michigan president Santa Ono asked the conference to not make a ruling until the results of the NCAA’s investigation because “oral updates from NCAA enforcement staff do not and cannot constitute evidence.”
Nov. 3: Michigan parts ways with Connor Stalions
The University of Michigan and recruiting analyst Connor Stalions part ways after a controversial two weeks. Stalions had been accused by numerous schools of purchasing tickets in his name for games of future Michigan opponents and transferring them to various friends and acquaintances. Those people were seen on various stadium security cameras holding cell phones up during play, presumably to record the signals of assistant coaches.
Michigan released a statement saying Stalions resigned.
“Connor Stalions resigned his position with Michigan Athletics this afternoon," the statement read. "We are unable to comment further regarding this personnel matter.”
Nov. 4: Big Ten provides Michigan with formal notice it had violated sportsmanship policy
Two days after it told the school there was “uncontroverted” evidence regarding the in-person sign stealing, the Big Ten gave Michigan its formal notice that the school had violated the conference’s sportsmanship policy. In its notice, the Big Ten said that “these were not isolated or haphazard incidents. The violations were pervasive, systemic, and occurred over multiple years.”
Nov. 8: Michigan responds to Big Ten notice
Michigan responded four days after the Big Ten’s notice. The conference said that Michigan “did not deny” the existence of Stalions’ scheme and argued the Big Ten didn’t have the authority to discipline the school. Michigan also told the Big Ten that other teams had shared its signals among themselves and that “it believed it had evidence of other conference members engaging in impermissible in-person sign-stealing.”
Nov. 10: Harbaugh suspended three games
Michigan’s response did not sway the Big Ten as Pettiti sent a letter to the school outlining why Jim Harbaugh was suspended for three games because of the in-person sign-stealing.
In the letter, the Big Ten said “the existence of the impermissible scheme is proven” and that Harbaugh would be allowed to coach during the week but was prevented from being on the sidelines on game days for the remainder of the regular season.
“We impose this disciplinary action even though the Conference has not yet received any information indicating that Head Football Coach Harbaugh was aware of the impermissible nature of the sign-stealing scheme. This is not a sanction of Coach Harbaugh. It is a sanction against the University that, under the extraordinary circumstances presented by this offensive conduct, best fits the violation because: (1) it preserves the ability of the University’s football student-athletes to continue competing; and (2) it recognizes that the Head Coach embodies the University for purposes of its football program.”
Nov. 11: Judge sets hearing for Nov. 17 as Michigan beats Penn State
Michigan immediately pushed back against the Big Ten’s suspension and filed for a stay against the ruling in Washtenaw County (Mich). The judge assigned to the case, Tim Connors, did not issue a ruling before Michigan’s win against Penn State on Saturday and set a hearing for Nov. 17.
Michigan and Harbaugh are arguing that the Big Ten has overstepped its bounds in suspending Harbaugh and that the conference lacks evidence to prove that Harbaugh himself violated any rules.
After Michigan's win over Penn State, interim head coach Sherrone Moore gave an emotional sideline interview and paid tribute to Harbaugh.
“I want to thank the Lord. I want to thank coach Harbaugh. I f****** love you, man. I love the s*** out of you, man. We did this for you,” Moore said after the win. “For this university, the president, our AD … We got the best players, best university, best alumni in the country.”
Nov. 16: Jim Harbaugh agrees to serve 3-game suspension, settling case before court date
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has agreed to serve the three-game suspension levied by the Big Ten amid the investigation into alleged impermissible, in-person sign-stealing by a member of the UM football staff.
That closes the book on the Big Ten's punishment against Harbaugh one day prior to a scheduled court date that would have determined whether or not Harbaugh could have had a temporary hold on his suspension.
The university issued a statement saying that the pending litigation between UM, Harbaugh and the Big Ten has been resolved. As a result, the Big Ten has agreed to close its investigation into Michigan and Harbaugh will serve his suspension in full.
Nov. 17: New evidence in NCAA case reveals booster's involvement in funding scheme
The NCAA presented the university with new evidence, including that a Michigan booster identified as "Uncle T" may have at least partially funded Stalions’ advanced scouting operation and an assistant coach allegedly participated in the destruction of evidence on a computer after the scandal broke, industry sources told Yahoo Sports.
That assistant was allegedly linebackers coach Chris Partridge, who has now been “relieved of his duties as a member of the Michigan Football staff,” according to the school.