91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Weekday mornings on Michigan Radio, Doug Tribou hosts NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to news radio program in the country.

John U. Bacon on Harbaugh's possible suspension and alcohol at MI college sports venues

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh calls time during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football semifinal playoff game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/AP
FR157181 AP
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh calls time during the Fiesta Bowl Dec. 31, 2022. Harbaugh is reportedly facing a possible four-game suspension for a number of alleged NCAA violations.

University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh spoke Thursday for the first time since media reports revealed he's likely to face a four-game suspension this fall for violating NCAA rules.

"[I'm] not allowed to talk about any aspect of that ongoing situation. And I'm with you. I'd love to lay it all out there. Nothing to be ashamed of, but now is not that time. And that's about all there is to say about that," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh appeared at the Big Ten media days in Indianapolis, shown on the Big Ten Network.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Morning Edition host Doug Tribou to talk about announcement and possible repercussions.

Doug Tribou: Jim Harbaugh says that's all there is to say about that. But I just have the sense that there could be a little bit more to say. I don't know if you feel the same. [Laughs]

John U. Bacon: I do. And stay tuned. In a nutshell, it boils down to this: The NCAA has accused Michigan of four Level 2 violations. Things like buying two recruits, who are already going to Michigan, cheeseburgers at the Brown Jug [restaurant in Ann Arbor]. But the Level 1 violation would be lying about that to the NCAA investigators, which is what the NCAA is accusing Harbaugh of. This is getting hashed out as we speak.

DT: What is your 10,000-foot view of the situation?

JUB: My old joke, Doug, is that the NCAA is very good at misdemeanors and they're not good at all at felonies. In this case, the felony is accusing Harbaugh of lying about a misdemeanor. So we're full circle now. How about that?

DT: If Harbaugh did mislead investigators, could this be a case of the cover-up being worse than the crime?

JUB: There's no question, because the crimes here are misdemeanors except for potentially lying to the NCAA. Harbaugh has so far denied that, for what it's worth.

It's in some ways, by the way, almost sticking it to the NCAA on this one. That's my impression of Harbaugh. The response, in this case, he was fed up with the NCAA.

I think a lot of people are — and it doesn't justify any of [the alleged violations], of course — but I think that's part of his response.

DT: The suspension would most likely start at the start of the season. How could it affect Michigan on the field for the Wolverines' four home games in September?

JUB: Well, in that sense, it is a pretty serious penalty, if that's what they come down with. Right now, they're talking about removing Harbaugh from four of the games, the first four games. The games in question, by the way, are the Eastern Carolina, Bowling Green, teams like this. Rutgers. Doug, you and I can coach those games and still win them.

DT: [Laughs] Before I let you go, this month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill into law allowing Michigan's public universities to sell beer, wine and cocktails at sports events. It's not expected to happen right away at the Big House [in Ann Arbor] and Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, but it's coming.

Some believe this will reduce the long hours of drinking pre-game outside the stadiums. What's your view of that take?

JUB: [Laughs] Is laughter a quote? Does that count? All right. A little history here for you. [In 1896,] they formed the Big Ten. And one of the reasons is they believed that college football would provide a needed distraction from the rampant drinking on campuses. It worked.

DT: [Laughing] They perceived it as one or the other: football or drinking. But somehow we've found a way to combine those at astonishing levels, it seems like.

John U. Bacon: [Laughs] Yeah. Good luck.

DT: John, thanks a lot.

JUB: Doug, always a pleasure.

Editor's note: Quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity. You can listen to the full interview near the top of this page.

Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Public staff as the host of Morning Edition in 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
John U. Bacon has worked nearly three decades as a writer, a public speaker, and a college instructor, winning awards for all three.
Caoilinn Goss is the producer for Morning Edition. She started at Michigan Public during the summer of 2023.
Related Content