Michigan cautions Big Ten against 'rush' to punishment

League: NCAA Football

Posted on: 09 Nov, 2023 at 03:51 AM

Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Michigan responded to the Big Ten's inquiry over alleged illegal sign-stealing, cautioning the conference not to issue a "premature" punishment against the program and/or head coach Jim Harbaugh, multiple media outlets reported on Wednesday.

Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti reportedly could hand out sanctions on Thursday.

Michigan's response urged Petitti not to rush to judgment due to feedback from other Big Ten schools, arguing that a quick verdict would create an "indefensible precedent."

Per Yahoo Sports, Petitti might issue a multi-game suspension for Harbaugh, who has denied having knowledge of any wrongdoing.

Yahoo got a copy of 10-page letter signed by Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel. The university maintains that former football staffer Connor Stalions ran a rogue operation that featured banned in-person scouting of upcoming opponents, arguing that no other Michigan coaches were aware of Stalions' efforts.

The school also argued that other Big Ten programs stole Michigan's signs, stating, "The conference should act cautiously when setting precedent given the reality that in-person scouting, collusion among opponents, and other questionable practices may well be far more prevalent than believed."

Michigan is also lining up its legal defense for a potential fight. According to ESPN, the school's response letter on Wednesday was a joint effort from Michigan's Board of Regents, the university's general counsel and outside counsel Williams & Connolly from Washington.

Multiple media outlets have reported that Stalions had purchased game tickets to watch Big Ten foes as well as several potential College Football Playoff opponents such as Georgia, Clemson and Alabama. Stalions also reportedly bought seats at numerous Big Ten games in areas where the opponents' sideline signals could be viewed.

--Field Level Media