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Michigan Football: Four Assistants to Share Head Coaching Responsibilities During Jim Harbaugh’s Three-Game Suspension

Jim Harbaugh, the head coach of the Michigan football team, will be stepping away from the sidelines for a portion of the Wolverines’ 2023 season. Despite earlier expectations that Harbaugh would coach the entire season while his NCAA case was unresolved, Michigan has decided to impose a three-game suspension as punishment for a Level I violation. This was announced by the school on Monday.

The announcement was made by Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, who stated, “While the ongoing NCAA matter continues through the NCAA process, today’s announcement is our way of addressing mistakes that our department has agreed to in an attempt to further that process. We will continue to support coach Harbaugh, his staff, and our outstanding student-athletes. Per the NCAA’s guidelines, we cannot comment further until the matter is resolved.”

During Harbaugh’s three-game absence, four assistants will share the duties of being the head coach. Jesse Minter, the defensive coordinator, will be the game day coach against East Carolina on September 2. Sherrone Moore, the offensive coordinator, will handle head coaching duties against Bowling Green on September 16. For the September 9 game against UNLV, Jay Harbaugh, the special teams coordinator, will be the head coach in the first half, and Mike Hart, the running backs coach, will take over after halftime.

Jim Harbaugh expressed confidence in his coaching staff, stating, “I’m certain that all will be impressed with the four coaches’ ability to direct and manage the game. It’s been well documented that we have a very talented coaching staff and I believe that all 10 assistant coaches will be head coaches in the near future. They are all capable of leading a team at an elite level. I know that everyone will handle their responsibilities and help our players to be the best version of themselves on and off the field this fall and beyond.”

Talk of Harbaugh’s suspension has been circulating for some time, even as the Wolverines begin the 2023 season as the preseason Big Ten favorites. Initially, a four-game suspension was on the table, but negotiations with the NCAA did not progress in August. Without a resolution, the suspension could extend into 2024.

Harbaugh is facing allegations of providing false or misleading information to the NCAA, which is classified as a Level I violation. The NCAA started an investigation into alleged Level II violations by Michigan’s staff during the NCAA-mandated COVID-19 recruiting dead period in 2021. It was found that Harbaugh contacted two prospects during the dead period and held Michigan practices with too many coaches on the field.

A potential resolution to the matter fell through in January when Harbaugh denied lying to investigators. While he admitted to some Level II violations, he maintained that he did not intend to mislead the investigators.

Since taking over at Michigan in 2015, Jim Harbaugh has accumulated a record of 74-25. Under his leadership, Michigan won the Big Ten championship in 2021 and 2022 and reached the College Football Playoff semifinals both times. During his three-game suspension, Harbaugh will miss the season opener against East Carolina, the game against UNLV in Week 2, and the game against Bowling Green in Week 3, all of which will be played at home.

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