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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Mike McDaniel

Desmond Howard Insists Big Ten is Treating Michigan Unfairly: ‘This Would Never Happen in the SEC’

Michigan alum and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard believes the Big Ten is treating his alma mater unfairly amid the school’s sign-stealing scandal.

Howard strongly defended the Wolverines program following the report by ESPN’s Heather Dinich that the conference could punish Michigan and coach Jim Harbaugh as soon as Friday afternoon ahead of the NCAA’s investigation timeline.

“The [Big Ten] commissioner is actually treating them unfairly,” Howard told fellow ESPN analyst Greg McElroy on Friday morning’s episode of Get Up! “He’s circumventing due process by the NCAA. That’s why. You know, Greg, this would never happen in the SEC. Are you telling me they would do this to Nick Saban and Alabama? Hell no!”

Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti has been criticized by Michigan supporters for allowing outside influences from rival schools impact his decision on discipline before the NCAA investigation into the school has been completed. With the NCAA review into the sign-stealing allegations ongoing, the criticism is fair. However, Petitti is well within his rights as the Big Ten commissioner to issue discipline independent of the NCAA via the conference’s sportsmanship policy.

Dinich noted that potential penalties ranging from suspension to a lofty fine have been considered by the conference. However, a suspension of more than two games or a fine larger than $10,000 will require special permission from an executive board composed of representatives from the conference at large.

It remains unclear what the NCAA will do in regard to potential sanctions against Michigan and Harbaugh, but the Big Ten’s punishment decision appears to be coming to a head.

No. 3 Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) plays at No. 10 Penn State (8-1, 5-1) on Saturday at noon ET.

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