With scrutiny mounting and the Big Ten reportedly preparing to take disciplinary action, Michigan is calling for the entirety of a deliberate and thorough investigation into its alleged unparalleled and expansive illegal-scouting scheme to conclude before facing any consequences.

U-M and Big Ten administrators met on Friday, a rendezvous that reportedly didn't go very well for the Wolverines. Michigan came into that meeting prepared to resist any recommended punitive measures but was blindsided when the conference presented, according to TheWolverine.com, "overwhelming evidence" of an extensive plot that U-M head coach Jim Harbaugh should have known about even if he truly wasn't personally involved.

Reports and rumors have varied regarding what the Big Ten has in store. Some are saying the conference is planning to implement an immediate two-game suspension for Harbaugh. Others purport the ban will cost Michigan's coach the remainder of the 2023 season, while also rendering the Wolverines ineligible for the Big Ten championship game.

Michigan President Santa Ono sent Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti an open letter demanding due process for his football program before any measures are taken.

It’s precisely at these times — when all key facts are not known but others are all too comfortable offering strongly held opinion — that it is essential for everyone to ensure that investigations are conducted fairly and that conclusions are based on what actually happened.  The reputation and livelihoods of coaches, students, and programs cannot be sacrificed in a rush to judgment, no matter how many and how loudly people protest otherwise.  Due process matters.

We, as would any other member of the Big 10, deserve nothing less.  Our students, our coaches, our program — all are entitled to a fair, deliberate, thoughtful process.


The best course of action, the one far more likely to ascertain the facts, is to await the results of the NCAA investigation.  But if you refuse to let the NCAA investigative process play out, the Big 10 may not take any action against the University or its players or coaches without commencing its own investigation and offering us the opportunity to provide our position.  That is not just required by our conference rules; it is a matter of basic fairness.

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Whether Ono's assertion that the league must conduct its own investigation and give Michigan a chance to defend itself before administering any discipline is accurate is up for debate, and perhaps litigation, too. What isn't, though, is U-M's audacious, sanctimonious "Rules For Thee, Not For Me" approach. (Otherwise known as The Michigan Difference.™)

Ono invokes the importance of fact-finding and truth in the name of protecting the reputations and livelihoods of those involved. He warns against the perils of rushing to judgment, preaching that fairness is a sacred right owed to all.

That's interesting, because Michigan's stance on due process is in direct and stark contrast with ... Michigan's stance on due process from just last year!

Yep. As it turns out, U-M only cares about due process and fairness when they stand to benefit from it.

You'd be hard-pressed to get the words "due process" or "basic fairness" out of the mouths of Michigan's leadership this time a year ago. They were too busy conducting a character-assassination campaign against eight Michigan State football players who got into a fight with two U-M players in the Big House tunnel after the Spartans' and Wolverines' rivalry game. The Big Ten, thanks in no small part to woefully aggrieved Michigan, forced MSU to suspend those players just hours after the incident, long before any semblance of due process was afforded them.

Was Ono distraught over a rush to judgment then, when his football coach was leveraging the Detroit media to demonize a group of 18- to 20-something-year-olds? How much of a consideration was due process when Harbaugh took to the podium minutes after that tunnel fight and unilaterally declared the actions of the Spartan football players involved to be definitively criminal? Did Ono lose any sleep over the basic fairness those MSU players were denied when U-M weaponized the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office, which was headed up by a season ticket-holder who's somehow an even bigger Michigan fanboy than Ono himself, to humiliate those young men in a supposed legal proceeding that looked like something out of Vladimir Putin's Russia?

The answers to those questions, in order, are: No, not at all, and of course not. Because the University of Michigan represents the largest collection of self-righteous phonies this side of politics. Hypocrisy of the most utterly shameless and oblivious order is as elemental to U-M as the winged helmet, fall Saturdays, and a fanbase overwhelmingly constituted of those without any tangible connection to the institution whatsoever.

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Something else Ono and his fellow Harbaugh apologists — in the media and otherwise — get fundamentally wrong is their legal assessment of Michigan's predicament. This is not a matter of law, meaning there is no due process. U-M is answerable to the Big Ten and NCAA here, both of whom have their own governing statutes. The disciplinary apparatus thereof are not part of the judicial system, no matter how inconvenient that may be to the myriad maize-and-blue-clad constitutional scholars and Fourteenth Amendment enthusiasts who have suddenly sprung up over the last few days.

Due process was owed, though, to the eight MSU football players whom U-M disenfranchised through an overtly vindictive kangaroo court. Didn't seem to be that high of a priority for Michigan then. But what good are values if they don't serve your interests, amirite?

Yeah, Ono's words about letting things play out for the sake of fairness and doing the right thing are transparently hollow bullshit. Who could've known?

If only someone who commands immeasurable credibility with Michigan Men had remarked on accountability, leadership, and the like. Someone who would never accept ignorance as an excuse from a leader. Someone who certainly would never stand for that himself, even if, say, the team physician he protected and enabled over four decades sexually assaulted hundreds of people.

Someone like Glenn E. "Bo" Schembechler, who gifted us this timeless musing in his book, "Bo's Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership."

Every coach, every executive, every leader: They all know right from wrong. Even those Enron guys. When someone uncovers a scandal in their company, I don't think they can say, 'I didn't know that was going on.' They're just saying they're too dumb to do their job! And if they really are too dumb, then why are they getting paid millions of dollars to do it? They know what's going on.

Michigan Scandals, Controversies, and Embarassments During Warde Manuel's Tenure as Athletic Director

Michigan athletics has been engulfed by multiple scandals, controversies, and embarassments over the last two years, all occurring on athletic director Warde Manuel's watch.

As the issues continue to mount, and Manuel continues to be practically invisible to the media and public, it's a wonder Manuel hasn't been fired already.

Gallery Credit: Getty Images

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