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Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh fell under the boot of the NCAA on Thursday when he and the program formally received a Notice of Allegations, which has been rumored after news emerged of the NCAA’s investigation.
The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach confirmed the report of the Allegations, which could prove to be benign or critical for the program — all centered on Harbaugh.
The program received four Level II violations, and Harbaugh was handed one Level I violation.
The offenses stem from the NCAA’s investigation of the program’s alleged violation of COVID-19 recruiting period protocol and using analysts / off-field coaches to direct Michigan practices.
Harbaugh’s Level I violation comes after failing to cooperate with investigators regarding the four potential Level II violations, which included contact with two recruits during the COVID dead period.
As noted by OutKick’s Trey Wallace, who has spoken with sources at Michigan, Harbaugh misled NCAA investigators regarding the contact with the two recruits.
Wallace expects that this situation could drag on for a couple of months, nearly up to a year. In a similar case involving the Tennesse Vols’ 18 Level I Violations, the NCAA has yet to administer a punishment, roughly six months after the case.
A Level I infraction on Harbaugh could result in either restriction to Michigan’s recruiting or a potential multi-game suspension for the coach.
This flare-up with the NCAA comes as Harbaugh gains steam in the NFL as a potential head coach. He last coached in the League from 2011 to 2014, leading the San Francisco 49ers to multiple playoff berths and a Super Bowl appearance.
Earlier Thursday, Harbaugh put out a statement where he touched on the rumors of leaving college ball for the pros and said he “expects” to be Michigan’s coach next season.
His phrasing read much more optimistic, while the subtext screamed, potentially on the way out.
Michigan will have 90 days to respond to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations. One option somewhere in the mix is to cut ties with Harbaugh, who has a “for cause” termination clause in his contract. He’s been leading the Wolverines since 2015 and has a 74-25 record in Ann Arbor.
A New Year’s Day report confirmed that the Denver Broncos reached out to Harbaugh to openly communicate their interest in signing him. The Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers are also reportedly in the mix to land Harbaugh.
Harbaugh is coming off his sixth-straight bowl loss — losing to TCU, 51-45, in the Peach Bowl.