College Football

Harbaugh: ‘I expect’ to be back at Michigan next season

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines is seen on the sideline during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on Dec. 31, 2022, in Glendale, Arizona. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Jim Harbaugh said he expects to coach Michigan’s football team next season, posting a statement Thursday on the team’s social media accounts following reports of his interest in returning to the NFL.

“I am aware of the rumors and speculation over the past few days,” Harbaugh said in a statement on Thursday. “College and NFL teams have great interest in all our personnel, from players to coaches to staff, and I truly believe that is a testament to the strength of our University of Michigan football program.”

While Harbaugh’s future with the school still seems unclear, Michigan is also awaiting word from the NCAA on an investigation into the football program regarding impermissible texts and calls — including some by Harbaugh — to high school prospects during part of a COVID-19 dead period, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The NCAA was also looking at whether a member of Michigan’s off-field football staff violated rules by doing on-the-field coaching during practice, the person said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because Michigan officials were not making details of the investigation public, the person said the school is expecting a notice of allegations from the NCAA as soon as Friday.

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper had a conversation with Harbaugh about the team’s head coaching position, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the Panthers do not typically release details of their coaching search.

Harbaugh also has been mentioned as a possible candidate to coach in Denver and Indianapolis, one of four teams he played quarterback for in the league from 1987 to 2000.

“As I stated in December, while no one knows what the future holds, I expect that I will be enthusiastically coaching Michigan in 2023,” Harbaugh said. “I have spoken with president Santa Ono and athletic director Warde Manuel and appreciate their support of me and our program.”

Harbaugh coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014, winning two NFC West titles and reaching the NFC championship game three times in four seasons. He was 44-19-1 during that span and helped the 49ers get to the Super Bowl a decade ago, where they lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens — led by his brother, John.

Jim Harbaugh left the 49ers after going 8-8 in 2014 — the only season the 49ers didn’t make the postseason under his direction — to take the job at Michigan.

The 59-year-old has a 74-25 record in eight seasons with the Wolverines, who were 13-0 this season before getting beat by TCU in a College Football Playoffs semifinals. Harbaugh also spent four seasons as head coach of Stanford and three more at San Diego.

Harbaugh was the AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2011 and AP College Coach of the Year in 2021.

AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo in New York and AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte, North Carolina, contributed.