Michigan’s No. 2 Ranking Team Suspends Employee Following NCAA Inquiry into Alleged Signal Theft

by Lucas Garcia
NCAA investigation

The University of Michigan, currently ranked second in college football, revealed on Friday that it has temporarily suspended an employee within its football program. This announcement comes a day after the institution disclosed that it is the subject of an NCAA investigation concerning accusations of illicitly obtaining play signals of opposing teams.

Warde Manuel, the Athletic Director for the University of Michigan, released a succinct statement indicating that Connor Stalions, an analytics assistant, has been placed on paid leave until the completion of the ongoing investigation. Although the university had not initially disclosed his identity, Stalions was later named in a report by ESPN as a central person of interest in this investigation.

An individual, who has been informed of the allegations against the University of Michigan, spoke to The Big Big News, confirming that the focus of the investigation is on Stalions. The probe aims to determine whether Stalions was involved in dispatching individuals to opponents’ games for the purpose of recording footage of sideline signal-calling. This individual requested anonymity, citing that no one had the authorization to publicly comment on the NCAA’s ongoing investigation.

Stalions, a retired Marine Corps captain and Naval Academy alumnus, was enlisted as an off-field analyst for Michigan’s football team in May of 2022, as per details from a LinkedIn profile that has since been removed.

The University of Michigan Wolverines, who are undefeated this season with a 7-0 record, will face Michigan State on Saturday. This season began under a cloud as head coach Jim Harbaugh served a university-imposed, three-game suspension due to another pending NCAA case whose details remain unresolved. Harbaugh vehemently denied having any awareness or involvement in the alleged signal theft.

Harbaugh stated, “I possess no information concerning the University of Michigan football team’s involvement in the unlawful acquisition of play signals, nor have I instructed any staff member to engage in off-campus scouting activities. I am unaware of any such actions undertaken by our staff.”

The NCAA regulations do not explicitly forbid signal stealing, although there are rules against the use of electronic devices for recording an opponent’s signals. What is principally at stake for Michigan in this case is NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1, which disallows off-campus, in-person scouting of future competitors within the same season. The NCAA also has guidelines that discourage unethical conduct by coaches and hold head coaches accountable for any infractions that occur during their tenure.

In light of the ongoing investigation, the Big Ten Conference has alerted all remaining opponents of Michigan. “As we approach Saturday’s football game, we are disheartened by news of the NCAA investigation and stand in solidarity with the Big Ten Conference’s devotion to integrity,” stated interim Michigan State President Teresa Woodruff. “While the allegations are troubling, they will be addressed through the NCAA’s official procedures.”

This development in college football comes two years after a Super Bowl win and parallels a recent sign-stealing scandal in Major League Baseball involving the Houston Astros, who were found to have electronically pilfered signals during their 2017 World Series win and subsequent 2018 season.

The University of Michigan, which has made consecutive playoff appearances under Harbaugh, is currently tied with Georgia at No. 1 as the favorite to win the national championship, as per FanDuel Sportsbook odds. The first set of College Football Playoff rankings is expected to be unveiled on October 31.

Follow Ralph D. Russo for further updates and listen to http://www.appodcasts.com. Sign up for alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season.

For more on college football, visit https://bigbignews.net/college-football and https://bigbignews.net/ap-top-25-college-football-poll.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NCAA investigation

What is the main focus of the NCAA investigation into the University of Michigan?

The main focus of the NCAA investigation into the University of Michigan is to examine allegations of illicitly obtaining play-calling signals of opposing football teams. The probe particularly centers on Connor Stalions, an analytics assistant with the football program.

Who is Connor Stalions and what is his role at the University of Michigan?

Connor Stalions is an analytics assistant for the University of Michigan’s football team. He was hired in May 2022 and has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the NCAA investigation. He is a retired Marine Corps captain and a graduate of the Naval Academy.

What specific NCAA rules or bylaws are potentially being violated?

The primary NCAA rule at issue is Bylaw 11.6.1, which prohibits off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents within the same season. There are also general rules against unsportsmanlike or unethical activities and guidelines that hold head coaches accountable for violations occurring under their watch.

What has been the University of Michigan’s response to the allegations?

The University of Michigan has suspended Connor Stalions with pay pending the conclusion of the NCAA investigation. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has denied any knowledge or involvement in the alleged signal stealing.

How has the Big Ten Conference responded to the investigation?

The Big Ten Conference has notified all of Michigan’s remaining opponents about the ongoing investigation. Interim Michigan State President Teresa Woodruff expressed disheartenment but emphasized that the allegations would be addressed through NCAA’s official procedures.

Have there been similar cases in sports recently?

Yes, a comparable situation occurred in Major League Baseball involving the Houston Astros. The team was found to have used electronic means to steal signs during their run to the 2017 World Series title and in the 2018 season.

What are the potential implications for Michigan’s current football season?

While it is too early to predict the specific outcomes, any substantiated violations could lead to penalties against the University of Michigan’s football program, possibly affecting their standing, eligibility for postseason play, or facing other sanctions.

When are the first College Football Playoff rankings expected to be released?

The first set of College Football Playoff rankings is slated for release on October 31. The University of Michigan is currently tied with Georgia as the odds-on favorite to win the national title, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

More about NCAA investigation

  • NCAA Bylaws
  • ESPN Report on Connor Stalions
  • University of Michigan Athletic Department Statement
  • Big Ten Conference Official Response
  • Major League Baseball Sign-Stealing Scandal
  • FanDuel Sportsbook National Championship Odds
  • College Football Playoff Rankings Release Date
  • AP Top 25 College Football Poll

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SteveSports October 22, 2023 - 1:49 am

Remember the Astros scandal? Looks like sign-stealing’s making rounds in other sports too. Ridiculous.

MikeJ42 October 22, 2023 - 2:05 am

Whoa, this is a big deal for Michigan. Being in hot water with NCAA? Not a good look, especially when you’re aiming for a national title.

TimInTech October 22, 2023 - 11:55 am

A tech angle here too. I mean, if electronic equipment was used that’s another layer of trouble for Michigan. Bad news.

SarahInFinance October 22, 2023 - 1:57 pm

Kinda surprised about Connor Stalions. Marine captain turned analyst and now this? Doesn’t add up.

JennyQ October 22, 2023 - 2:16 pm

so Harbaugh didn’t know? hmm seems hard to believe, he’s the head coach after all.

RobTheFan October 22, 2023 - 4:29 pm

Seriously? If they needed to cheat they shouldn’t be No. 2 in the first place. Just saying.

LauraP October 22, 2023 - 9:13 pm

They should wait for the investigation to conclude b4 making any judgements. Innocent until proven guilty, ppl.

FootBallFan101 October 22, 2023 - 9:26 pm

if they’re guilty, just imagine the penalties. This could ruin their season for sure.


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