Less than a week after Michigan Wolverines got kicked out of college football playoffsthe university was awarded a NCAA Allegations Notice. The document includes five alleged rule violations related to the college football program, and in particular head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Four of the five violations are Level II violations, which are not considered very serious. The fines for Class II offenses are quite small. In 2017, the University of Virginia was reprimanded for a self-reported Level II recruitment violation from the previous year. Based on report, violation revolves around the assistant coach taking pictures with the prospect. Virginia was fined only $5,000 for this violation, but was ordered to reduce off-campus contacts from six to four and the spring 2017 assessment from 168 to 150. Furthermore, Virginia staff were educated. Extra rules education – basically the soccer version of the driving exercise after getting caught speeding.
In the case of Michigan, Level II violate outlines contact with two prospective athletes during COVID-19 downtime as well as a self-reported violation resulting from improper use of an analyst for on-court guidance. As I said earlier, these are considered minor violations.
The most serious allegation involves Jim Harbaugh
On the other hand, Level I violations are taken very seriously and can result in various penalties from the NCAA. While each Level II violation may not be considered serious for the individual, class II violations may be considered a Violation Level I. Given the period of negotiations that began after Michigan received the Notice of Allegation, it doesn’t appear that they will be subject to a second Level I violation in this case, but that is still a possibility.
Michigan’s Level I violation involves Harbaugh allegedly providing false or misleading information to NCAA investigators looking into one of the Level II violations listed above. Essentially, if Harbaugh had only complied with the investigation and allowed Michigan to commit various Level II violations, the university wouldn’t have faced serious consequences.
What penalties might Michigan incur?
The NCAA’s penalty system considers a 1-2 year post-season ban to be acceptable for a Level I offense. That said, a more serious Level I offense can result in a 2-4 ban. year after the season. What is considered an “aggravation” violation you claim? Well, one of the aggravating factors is whether the accused party “infringed on the integrity of the investigation” and/or failed to cooperate with the investigation. Providing false information to investigators seems to fall under that distinction.
In 2019, the University of Arizona was fined five times for Level I violations, including unethical recruiting practices, and a case where former assistant coach Mark Phelps asked an Arizona player to delete a string of text linking related to a $500 loan he made and then lied to investigators about it, among many more. In response, the university self-imposed a year-long post-season ban. After much consideration from the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP), a one-year ban was deemed sufficient. Although the university has suffered some other punishment Also, including a reduction in existing scholarships and a two-week ban on official visits by the official men’s basketball team, the damage was more or less mitigated. While we can’t be certain about the penalties Michigan will face, similar hiring restrictions as well as post-season bans or suspensions are likely to be on the table.
If Harbaugh is found guilty of this Level I violation, Harbaugh will likely have his contract terminated in Michigan. His contract with the school allows them to fire him “with cause” if he commits a Level I or II violation.
Harbaugh expressed interest upon returning to Michigan in 2023 after his second consecutive trip to the College Football Qualifiers. However, Harbaugh is also a well-known name amid NFL head coach rumors. A Level I violation could push Harbaugh to accept an NFL job he wouldn’t otherwise have. After all, reports indicate that Harbaugh will get an NFL job if a job is offered to him.
While a Level I violation may be serious, it also may not be a deal-breaker for Michigan, assuming he wants to stay in college. It doesn’t appear that Harbaugh will be penalized for good cause, just as former assistants Arizona men’s basketball coaches Book Richardson and Mark Phelps were hit in 2019. Though the college may be subject to Level I violations. “lack of institutional control,” but it is still possible that the school and Harbaugh agreed to undisclosed disciplinary action separate from the NCAA consequences. If that happens, Michigan will likely choose not to fire Harbaugh.