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More turmoil for No. 2 Michigan as assistant coach Chris Partridge fired day before Maryland game

By The Associated Press
Posted 12:27PM on Friday 17th November 2023 ( 3 months ago )

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — No. 2 Michigan fired linebackers coach Chris Partridge on Friday, the latest turmoil for a Wolverines team that is under NCAA investigation for a sign-stealing scheme and will not have head coach Jim Harbaugh on the sideline until after next week's showdown against rival Ohio State.

Athletic director Warde Manuel did not say why Partridge had been let go, citing employee privacy laws. Partridge allegedly tried to cover up evidence after the scheme became public, Yahoo Sports reported, citing sources it did not identify. Partridge did not return a text from The Associated Press seeking comment.

“From the outset, our focus has been on seeking due process and allowing the NCAA to conduct a fair and deliberate investigation," Manuel said, noting the school was continuing to cooperate with the probe. "Consistent with our commitment to integrity, we will continue to take the appropriate actions, including disciplinary measures, based on information we obtain.”

The firing came one day after the school reached an agreement with the Big Ten Conference under which Harbaugh will serve the final two games of his three-game suspension in return for the conference ending its investigation into the sign-stealing allegations. Harbaugh won't be on the sideline Saturday at Maryland or next week against the third-ranked Buckeyes in the regular-season finale, leaving the coaching to his assistants.

The former staffer at the center of the investigation, Connor Stalions, resigned two weeks ago. He is accused of purchasing tickets to scout future Michigan opponents and sending people to those games to digitally record teams signaling in their plays. In-person scouting is banned by the NCAA, which is trying to determine how organized the scheme was and who knew about it.

Partridge rejoined the program in February after serving as Mississippi's co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach for three seasons.

“Chris has been a trusted agent, known friend and ally since we started working together in 2015,” Harbaugh said then.

Partridge previously worked for Harbaugh from 2016 through the 2019 season. He was hired to be the team's director of player personnel before being promoted to assistant coach for four years during his first stint with the Wolverines.

Harbaugh was suspended last Friday by the Big Ten and missed the victory at Penn State the next day. Michigan sought a court order to get the suspension thrown out but the agreement was reached Thursday, a day before a scheduled court hearing..

Harbaugh, who also served a three-game suspension at the beginning of the season for an unrelated and unresolved NCAA infractions case tied to recruiting, is permitted to coach the team during the week. The Wolverines are among the favorites to win a national title and are looking for their third straight Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff appearance.

Rick Minter had been promoted to lead the linebackers.

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FILE - Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh looks to catch a pass before an NCAA college football game against Minnesota, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Minneapolis. When Jim Harbaugh and the University of Michigan have their day in court, trying to at least pause punishment from the Big Ten for a sign-stealing scheme, sports law experts will be among those watching how the extraordinary confrontation plays out. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr, File)
Michigan linebackers coach Chris Partridge attends the Youth Pro Level Football Camp in Waldwick, N.J., Saturday, April 9, 2016. Michigan fired linebackers coach Chris Partridge, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, a day after the school reached an agreement with the Big Ten to have head coach Jim Harbaugh serve the remainder of a three-game suspension in return for the conference ending its investigation into a scheme to steal opponents' play-calling signals. (Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, File)

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