Michigan AD Warde Manuel blasts Big Ten for suspending Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the University of Michigan, will not be present at today's game against Penn State due to a suspension from the Big Ten. Furthermore, the temporary restraining order he sought was delayed by a Washtenaw County Judge. Despite these challenges, Michigan‘s athletic director, Warde Manuel, has expressed steadfast support for Harbaugh, committing to stand by him through the upcoming hearing next week and in the future.
What did Warde Manuel say?
Following the news breaking that Harbaugh will not be allowed to coach on Saturday against Penn State, Manuel released the following statement:
“I want to make it clear at the outset of this statement that no one at the University of Michigan is happy to hear of the allegations and preliminary evidence that has come forth about in-person scouting and sign stealing by a member of our football program,” Manuel said. “No one. We, like every institution in this country, preach and educate all of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff, to adhere to rules and ask questions if something is unclear.
“However, no one here, and no one at other universities around this country, wants to be convicted and penalized without due process of a complete investigation and with significant harm to our student-athletes. This is a fundamental principle of our justice, NCAA and, until yesterday, our conference systems. Sadly, that is not what happened yesterday.”
“Yesterday, under the guise of the NCAA Rule regarding Head Coach Responsibility the Big Ten decided to penalize Coach Harbaugh without knowing all the facts, and I find that completely unethical, insulting to a well-established process within the NCAA, and an assault on the rights of everyone (especially in the Big Ten) to be judged by a fair and complete investigation,” he added. “Not liking someone or another university or believing without any evidence that they knew or saying someone should have known without an investigation is not grounds to remove someone from their position before the NCAA process has reached a conclusion through a full NCAA investigative process.“
“All of the Head Coaches in the Big Ten (some who have been accused of actively participating in the trading of signals of opponents) and my Big Ten AD colleagues can rejoice today that someone was “held accountable,” but they should be worried about the new standard of judgment (without complete investigation) that has been unleashed in this conference.”
“You may have removed him from our sidelines today, but Jim Harbaugh is our head football coach. We look forward to defending Jim’s right to coach our football team at the hearing on Friday,” he said. “He has instilled his pride, passion, and the team’s belief in themselves to achieve greatness. I will continue to support Jim throughout this process, my coaches and staff, and especially our student-athletes as we continue to play this game and fight to win for Michigan and all who love us.”
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- Michigan's Athletic Director, Warde Manuel, has publicly criticized the Big Ten's decision to suspend Jim Harbaugh, the head coach of the University of Michigan, for the upcoming game against Penn State, deeming the action premature and without due process.
- Manuel's statement emphasizes the university's commitment to rules and fairness, expressing concern over the Big Ten's decision to penalize Harbaugh before the completion of a full investigation into the sign-stealing allegations.
- Despite the suspension and ongoing legal challenges, Manuel remains firmly supportive of Harbaugh, vowing to defend his right to coach and stressing Harbaugh’s positive impact on the team. He also warns of the precedent this decision sets for other Big Ten coaches and institutions.
The Bottom Line
Warde Manuel's strong rebuke of the Big Ten's decision to suspend Jim Harbaugh highlights a significant rift in the collegiate athletic community over issues of fairness and due process. As Michigan navigates this challenging situation, Manuel's unwavering support for Harbaugh not only reinforces the coach's role within the team but also signals a broader stance on protecting the rights and reputations of individuals and institutions within the NCAA framework. This situation brings to the forefront the delicate balance between maintaining competitive integrity and ensuring just and equitable treatment within collegiate sports governance.