Jim Harbaugh Press Conference: Wolverines Coach Calls Contract Rescission Report Inaccurate, Says Michigan Will “Cooperate” With NCAA Investigation and “Watch How It Plays Out”

By Chase Brown on October 30, 2023 at 2:18 pm
Jim Harbaugh
Rick Osentoski / USA TODAY Sports

On Oct. 19, the Big Ten announced that the NCAA had started an investigation into the Michigan football program for allegedly violating a rule that prohibits teams from scouting future opponents in person.

Two days later, on Oct. 21, the Wolverines defeated Michigan State 49-0 in East Lansing. In a press conference after the game, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh did not address the matter when asked, explaining the NCAA's probe made him unable to comment on events connected to the investigation.

Over the following week, several reports were published from national outlets such as Yahoo Sports, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the AP, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal about Michigan's alleged sign-stealing operation:

After a bye week last week, Harbaugh appeared before the media on Monday for the first time since Oct. 21. He declined to answer specific questions about the ongoing NCAA investigation, but here is a recap of what he had to say when asked about it during his Q&A session with reporters at Schembechler Hall:

On the WSJ report that his contract extension offer was rescinded

"I wouldn't say that's accurate. No. The university has a policy – I think they made a statement, right (Michigan football communications director) Dave (Ablauf)? – of the policy on contracts and public talking about them. It's worded something like, they don't comment about them until after they are done."

On how the sign-stealing allegations could affect his legacy at Michigan, as a head coach

"The team is refreshed. I am refreshed. (We had an) opportunity to spend some time with the families after a pretty good week of practice last week – got some things done. We are in an onward mode. To answer your question specifically, it's a one-track mind that I am modeling, and I see it throughout the program."

On if it's his responsibility to know all that occurs in the Michigan football program

"That question probably answers itself. I was forthright with the statement right away, but you're asking – I will leave it at that."

On what he knows about the outside investigative firm that reported Michigan to the NCAA

"I have a one-track mind. I am not gonna be speculating and let others speculate that on the various speculations out there. It would be unfair to the team not just to be coaching the team."

On his message to former Michigan players who have felt "embarrassed" about the Wolverines' alleged sign-stealing operation

"That's speculation. I would say that everyone is entitled to their opinion."

On if he has to "bite his tongue" about the "stuff that's out there" about Michigan

"I mean, I'm with you. I'm with you in the situation. But you have to let it play out. Cooperate with the investigation and watch how it plays out. The speculation part – I mean, as I said, there's too much of a one-track mind and coaching the team to be able to engage in every piece of speculation that seems to be any and everywhere."

On how he keeps a "one-track mind" while headlines surround Michigan

"I channel my inner William Wallace. That's the visual I think of to keep a one-track mind."

On how Michigan has prepared this week after the events of last week

"It hasn't changed. It's been a one-track mind. Get up and take care of business that day. Then, when you go to sleep, get up and take care of business again the next day. Last week, that was three days of practice and a fourth day of training. Then there was Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the refreshing, rehabbing. That takes focus and concentration, too. We're back to regular practice. So wake up and take care of business."

On if he knows how long the NCAA investigation will take

"Same kind of question. It's one of those things – it's speculation. I don't have a timetable. I can't give you one. ... Again, it's stuff we can't talk about. I'd love to. I am like you. I am in all of your positions. We'll let it play out."

On what conversations with Michigan's AD and Board of Regents have looked like recently

"We can talk about the football game on Saturday. We can talk about Purdue and the vibes and the preparation and where it stands today. But it doesn't seem like you're interested in that. That's what I can talk about."

On what his message to Michigan fans would be

"I don't have a message right now. As I said, everybody is welcome to their opinion. I think the people that know us the most think the most of us."

On his initial reaction after learning about the NCAA investigation

"I was very forthright in the statement. I'll refer you back to that. That was forthright and spoke the most volumes about where (the investigation) stood. That's a question that can answer itself."

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