Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Michigan fires LB coach Chris Partridge one day after school accepts Jim Harbaugh’s three-game suspension

Michigan has fired linebackers coach Chris Partridge effective immediately, the school announced on Friday. Defensive analyst Rick Minter will step into an on-field role and serve as the team’s linebackers coach moving forward. The school released a statement suggesting that Partridge’s dismissal is tied to information obtained by the NCAA in its sign-stealing investigation that led to the three-game suspension of coach Jim Harbaugh.

“From the outset, our focus has been on seeking due process and allowing the NCAA to conduct a fair and deliberate investigation,” the statement read. “Although the Big Ten has closed its investigation, we are continuing to cooperate with the NCAA as it moves forward with its ongoing investigation. Consistent with our commitment to integrity, we will continue to take the appropriate actions, including disciplinary measures, based on information we obtain. Earlier today, Michigan Athletics relieved Chris Partridge of his duties as a member of the Michigan Football staff. Due to employee privacy laws, we are unable to comment further.”

According to Yahoo Sports, while Partridge is not alleged to have known about the sign-stealing operation, he is alleged to have covered up evidence after the fact. The Big Ten was prepared to reduce Harbaugh’s suspension from three games to two before the information on Partridge’s involvement was discovered, according to Sports Illustrated

Partridge was hired prior to the 2023 season after spending the previous three seasons as Ole Miss co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. He served in various roles at Michigan from 2015-19, including special teams coordinator from 2016-19, linebackers coach 2016-17 and safeties coach from 2018-19. 

Minter served as Cincinnati’s coach from 1994-2003 where he posted a 53-63-1 record. He is the father of current Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. 

Partridge’s dismissal comes at an interesting time for Michigan as Harbaugh is serving the second game of the three-game suspension this weekend when the Wolverines visit Maryland after the Big Ten discovered a pattern of illegal scouting. At the center of the investigation is analyst Connor Stalions, who allegedly purchased multiple tickets to games of future or potential future Michigan opponents, which is a violation of NCAA rules. While Harbaugh was not implicated in the scheme, the conference determined that he did violate the league’s sportsmanship policy. The NCAA is still investigating the matter.

Harbaugh accepted the penalty on Thursday after fighting it through the legal system for the past week. 

“The Conference agreed to close its investigation, and the University and Coach Harbaugh agreed to accept the three-game suspension. Coach Harbaugh, with the University’s support, decided to accept this sanction to return the focus to our student-athletes and their performance on the field. The Conference has confirmed that it is not aware of any information suggesting Coach Harbaugh’s involvement in the allegations. The University continues to cooperate fully with the NCAA’s investigation.”

No. 3 Michigan will face Maryland on Saturday at noon ET before it closes out the season against No. 2 Ohio State in their annual rivalry showdown.

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