The University of Michigan is already loaded for bear as it pertains to Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti potentially levying a punishment against Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh. Now the Big Ten may be getting more than it bargained for.
Not only has U-M hired powerhouse law firm Williams & Connolly out of Washington D.C., lawmakers in the state of Michigan have sent a warning shot of their own.
According to The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach, 11 members of the Michigan Legislature have sent a letter to the Big Ten commissioner urging him to show restraint and let due process take its course.
Eleven Michigan state lawmakers sent this letter to the Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti today urging him to “refrain from taking any premature measures” against Michigan: pic.twitter.com/BIpfKGM7Ea
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) November 8, 2023
The letter reads:
Dear Mr. Petitti,
As members of the Michigan legislature, we write to you today to urge you to act prudently and refrain from taking any premature measures against one of our state universities, including their athletic program, football team or coaching staff. These individuals are our constituents, and we feel the need to ensure they are treated fairly.
In the legislature, we pass laws to ensure every citizen and organization in Michigan is guaranteed their rights to due process under the law. These principles of justice should also be followed by the Big Ten Conference. Allegations of misconduct against conference members from the State of Michigan should be taken seriously, but accusations, especially those made by interested parties, must be met with thoughtful and thorough investigations based on fairness for all of those involved.
We all know the passion surrounding college athletics, not only in our state, but around the country. With social media speculation and public rumors running wild, it is important that any investigation and determination is based on carefully considered facts. The University of Michigan and its football program, like all of our collegiate athletic programs, is entitled to an impartial and deliberate process that takes into account all evidence, allows for opportunities for the accused to refute allegations, and comes to conclusions based on the whole truth.
It is essential that the Big Ten Conference not take any disciplinary action against the University of Michigan until the final results of its own or, more appropriately, the NCAA investigation are officially announced. Should those results demonstrate misconduct, an appropriate punishment should be imposed. In the meantime, the players and coaches should be free to continue to participate in the game that they love without being punished with premature or unsubstantiated sanctions.
Should you, as the Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, rush to judgement or engage in any ill-considered actions, we will vigorously support our public universities in their efforts to compel fairness and due process.
The most notable part is the final paragraph, with the thinly-veiled threat of action by the state.
Stay tuned as the story develops.