NCAA Hits Michigan Football With Three Years Probation Over Recruiting Violations

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The NCAA announced today that the University of Michigan, along with five individuals who currently or previously worked for its football program, have reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations and coaching activities by non-coaching staff members that occurred within the football program, and the appropriate penalties for those violations.

According to a press release from the NCAA, a Committee on Infractions panel has approved the agreement. One former coach did not participate in the agreement, and that portion of the case will be considered separately by the Committee on Infractions, after which the committee will release its full decision. 

The brings at least some closer to an investigation into recruiting violations by the Michigan football program that saw Michigan formally announce that head football coach Jim Harbaugh would serve a self-imposed three-game suspension, which was served during the opening three regular-season games of the 2023 campaign. First-year Michigan coach Sherrone Moore was also suspended for the season opener last season when he was the offensive coordinator as part of the school's self-imposed penalties for violating NCAA rules.

According to the NCAA, the agreed-upon violations involve impermissible in-person recruiting contacts during a COVID-19 dead period, impermissible tryouts, and the program exceeding the number of allowed countable coaches when non-coaching staff members engaged in on- and off-field coaching activities (including providing technical and tactical skills instruction to student-athletes).  

"Today's joint resolution pertains to the University of Michigan Athletic Department and several former and current employees," Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a prepared statement. "We are pleased to reach a resolution on this matter so that our student-athletes and our football program can move forward. We have no additional information and cannot comment further on other aspects of the NCAA's inquiries."

The negotiated resolution also involved the school's agreement that the underlying violations demonstrated a head coach responsibility violation and the former football head coach failed to meet his responsibility to cooperate with the investigation. The school also agreed that it failed to deter and detect the impermissible recruiting contacts and did not ensure that the football program adhered to rules for non-coaching staff members.

The NCAA said the committee would not discuss further details of the case to protect the integrity of the ongoing process, as the committee's final decision — including potential violations and penalties for the former coach — is pending.

By separating the cases, the Division I Committee on Infractions publicly acknowledges the infractions case and permits the school and the participating individuals to immediately begin serving their penalties while awaiting the committee's final decision on the remaining contested portion of the case. That decision will include any findings and penalties for the former coach. This is the fourth case where the committee has used multiple resolution paths. 

The agreed-upon penalties in this case include three years of probation for the school, a fine and recruiting restrictions in alignment with the Level I-Mitigated classification for the school. The participating individuals also agreed to one-year show-cause orders consistent with the Level II-Standard and Level II-Mitigated classifications of their respective violations.

Michigan and its staff members who were involved are allowed to "immediately begin serving their penalties while awaiting the committee's final decision on the remaining contested portion of the case."

"Per NCAA protocol, we are not identifying individuals," Michigan associate athletic director Kurt Svoboda told ESPN. "I can note that no further game restrictions will be served by anyone who is still on the U-M staff."

Michigan is also under investigation in a separate investigation that involves a sign stealing system led by former staffer Connor Stalions. The NCAA's enforcement staff notified Michigan officials and the Big Ten about the allegations on Oct. 18, 2023. The agreement between the NCAA and Michigan that was announced on Tuesday was unrelated.

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