May 24, 2024

Republican Gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker participates in the 2014 Massachusetts Gubernatorial Forum on Mental Health in Boston, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, sponsored by The Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. The intent of the forum was to create a dialogue around issues of mental health, focusing on veterans, teen suicide, the social impact of casino and marijuana legalization, and mental health care. Gretchen Ertl/AP Images for Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology.

In a surprising twist of events, NCAA president Charlie Baker defended his decision to announce that the Michigan Wolverines had won the National Championship “fair and square.” This unusual move took place before the championship game against the Washington Huskies, which the Wolverines won 34-13. Baker, who has been in office for eight months, made headlines in October by revealing the preliminary findings of an ongoing NCAA investigation into prohibited methods of stealing signs from other teams.

This disclosure led to a series of consequences, including the resignation of Connor Stalions, the three-game suspension of head coach Jim Harbaugh by Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti, and the firing of Chris Patridge for allegedly obstructing the investigation. Despite acknowledging the uniqueness of his decision, Baker believed that it was necessary to maintain the integrity of the College Football Playoff and legitimize Michigan’s championship run.

NCAA President Charlie Baker talks growing fanbase, gambling and new tier  of Division in 1st address - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Baker expressed no regrets, stating, “I don’t regret doing it because sitting on that information, given the comprehensiveness of it, I think we would have put everyone, including Michigan, in an awful place.” He emphasized that the public disclosure allowed teams to make necessary adjustments during the season. Baker believed that, at this point, there was widespread acceptance that Michigan had won the national title legitimately.

The investigation into sign-stealing, led by Stalions, was initiated based on a tip from an independent third party, providing compelling evidence to the NCAA. Baker explained the need for swift action due to the potential consequences for game outcomes. Despite the controversy, Michigan’s post-investigation performance was impressive, going undefeated in eight games and securing victories against top teams.

Michigan players and staff, including Athletic Director Warde Manuel, strongly rejected any suggestion that their title was tainted, asserting their innocence. Head coach Jim Harbaugh stated, “We’re innocent, and we stood strong and tall because we knew we were innocent.” Baker anticipated that the sign-stealing investigation would expedite now that the football season had concluded, allowing for more engagement with coaches and a resolution to the matter.

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