Assistant coach fired after more details emerge from investigation of Michigan sign-stealing scheme

Jim Harbaugh won’t coach the Michigan football team when Ohio State travels to Ann Arbor next weekend.

Neither will the Wolverines linebackers coach.

The university announced Friday morning Chris Partridge had been “relieved of his duties.”

Athletic director Warde Manuel did not say why Partridge had been let go, citing employee privacy laws.

“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.”

Not long after, Yahoo Sports reported the NCAA has presented Michigan with evidence Partridge destroyed evidence of a wide-ranging sign-stealing campaign the organization is investigating.

That was the brain child of former Michigan recruiting analyst Connor Stalions, who resigned two weeks ago after being identified as organizing a multi-year effort to illegally collect future opponents’ play signals via in-person scouting and video recording.

Last week, the Big Ten suspended Harbaugh for the rest of the regular season, a decision the university resisted vigorously until dropping its legal challenge Thursday.

Harbaugh has denied knowing about the sign-stealing scheme, and multiple reports have indicated no evidence he was aware of it has emerged during the NCAA’s investigation.

However, the Big Ten opted to suspend him as a representative of the program after commissioner Tony Petitti ruled the conference’s sportsmanship policy had been broken.

Yahoo also reported Friday that the NCAA investigation had revealed a booster known as “Uncle T” allegedly helped fund Stalions’ scouting system, which included sending multiple people to dozens of games over three years.

Previously the Washington Post reported the NCAA had obtained a spreadsheet from Michigan that detailed plans to scout future games this year, including a budget for the operation.

Partridge spent six seasons at Michigan and three at Mississippi.

He initially arrived in Ann Arbor in 2015 after five years as the head coach of New Jersey high school powerhouse Paramus Catholic, the alma mater of multiple Michigan recruits, including five-star defensive lineman Rashan Gary and five-star defensive back Jabrill Peppers.

Partridge spent three seasons at Mississippi before returning to Michigan last winter.

Long-time Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Rick Minter, whose son Jesse is Michigan’s defensive coordinator, will coach linebackers in Partridge’s absence.

Michigan is undefeated and No. 3 in the College Football Playoff committee rankings this week.

The Wolverines are scheduled to play at Maryland at noon Saturday.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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