It was announced yesterday that the NCAA is officially investigating the Michigan Wolverines over alleged sign steals. Now, ESPN is reporting that a "low-level staffer with a military background has emerged as one of the linchpins."
Breaking: The NCAA is investigating the Michigan Wolverines' football program amid allegations of sign stealing, the Big Ten Conference said Thursday.
— ESPN (@espn) October 19, 2023
The person in question is Connor Stalions. He's a football analyst with Michigan and is also a retired captain in the United States Marine Corps.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) October 20, 2023
The violation in question involves having staff members actively go and watch/scout other teams in person, a technique that's been prohibited since 1994. The official Bylaw is 11.6.1, which reads, "Off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season) is prohibited."
According to ESPN, Stalion's involvement is "so significant it sought access to his computer as part of its investigation. Sources indicated that the process is underway, although it's uncertain what investigators will find."
In their report, ESPN asked Stalions and Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel for comment, but neither responded.
The source also told ESPN that the system for sign stealing goes back to 2021. Now, Michigan is dealing with this, on top of Jim Harbaugh's alleged violations during the COVID-19 dead period. He faced a three-game self-imposed suspension.
On Thursday, Harbaugh stated these latest allegations, saying he doesn't "condone or tolerate anyone doing anything illegal or against NCAA rules."
He continued, saying, "I do not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signals, nor have I directed any staff member or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment."
His statement continues beyond this, too, also adding, "I have no awareness of anyone on our staff having done that or having directed that action," Harbaugh said. "No matter what program or organization that I have led throughout my career, my instructions and awareness of how we scout opponents have always been firmly within the rules."
As part of the investigation, the NCAA notified not only Michigan, the Big Ten, and future Michigan opponents, which includes Michigan State, who they're taking on in Week 8.
When the investigation came to light, the Big Ten released a statement.
"The Big Ten Conference considers the integrity of competition to be of utmost importance and will continue to monitor the investigation," the conference said.
Stalions, the person in question here, is known to work in the recruiting department under the director of recruiting, Albert Karschnia.
According to someone with knowledge of the Michigan staff, Stalions "had one role."
Coaches and administrators have come out strong against these allegations.
In ESPN's report, a Big Ten source said,
"This is worse than both the Astros and the Patriots — it's both use of technology for a competitive advantage and there's allegations that they are filming prior games, not just in-game. If it was just an in-game situation, that's different. Going and filming somewhere you're not supposed to be. It's illegal. It's too much of an advantage."
Now, we wait to see the outcome of these allegations and Harbaugh's COVID-19 dead period alleged violations.
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