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Sources say the NCAA has little-to-no evidence that Jim Harbaugh lied

On Thursday, new reports indicate that the NCAA either substantially lacks or does not have evidence that Jim Harbaugh purposefully lied to them.



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Jul 22, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh speaks to the media during Big 10 media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, Yahoo Sports released an article stating that Jim Harbaugh and the NCAA are at an impasse. On one hand, the NCAA claims that Harbaugh initially lied to them about this Level 1 and 2 violations which happened nearly three years ago now.

On the other, Jim Harbaugh claims that, when first asked, he did not recall the events, and that he did not purposefully mislead the NCAA in any way.

Harbaugh’s alleged violations

Here is what the NCAA claims Jim Harbaugh did, resulting in Level 2 violations: meeting with two recruits during a COVID-19 dead period, texting a recruit outside of an allowable time period, having analysts perform on-field coaching duties during practice and having coaches watching players work out via Zoom.

Punishments for Level 2 violations are usually minor (if any) as the NCAA describes these violations as “less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage.” In other words, the NCAA says they are “systemic violations that do not amount to lack of institutional control.” Yet here we are.

That being said, the NCAA alleges that Jim Harbaugh lied to them (and continues to do so), which resulted in a Level 1 violation —  a far more serious accusation and violation. Level 1 violations could result in suspension or worse. At the same time, the NCAA has and continues to lose institutional power; for example, Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks won an NCAA National Championship (men’s basketball) with five NCAA Level 1 allegations.

In other words, what can the NCAA actually do about it? Below, you’ll see that the answer is likely not much.

NCAA lacks evidence against Jim Harbaugh

It is quite hard to prove that Jim Harbaugh lied to the NCAA on purpose; in fact, that goes for just about anyone. It isn’t easy to prove intentions.

According to Yahoo Sports, sources claim that the NCAA does not have the necessary “detailed contemporaneous evidence, which sources say the NCAA either lacks or simply doesn’t exist.” The sources went on to claim that, “An NCAA punishment, even a short suspension, on the Level II violations without any admission of lying might be acceptable to Harbaugh. Anything involving admitting dishonesty would not.”

From the looks of things, if it’s a fight that the NCAA wants, it’s one that they will get. The University of Michigan appears to be siding with its 59-year-old head coach, and without any evidence against him, it would be hard to charge Harbaugh with anything more than a slap on the wrist for his Level 2 violations.

At the end of the day, there are real issues with college football that go beyond a zoom call or a hamburger. If the NCAA wants to go after someone, they need the evidence and it should be for a serious offense — to me (and many others), this feels like a wild goose chase.

If Yahoo’s sources are correct in their claim that the NCAA does not have the evidence, this whole case needs to be thrown out. Charge Jim Harbaugh with breaking the rules — his Level 2 violations are very real and should be taken seriously — but don’t go after something you cannot prove or that doesn’t exist.

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