Michigan Staffer Connor Stalions Reportedly Purchased Tickets to Games at 11 Different Big Ten Schools Over Past Three Years

By Dan Hope on October 23, 2023 at 3:52 pm
Connor Stalions on the sideline at the 2022 Ohio State/Michigan game
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK

The NCAA may have its smoking gun in its investigation into Michigan’s alleged sign-stealing operation.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel and Mark Schlabach reported Monday that Connor Stalions, the Michigan staffer at the center of the NCAA’s investigation into prohibited in-person scouting by the Wolverines, purchased tickets in his own name for more than 30 games over the last three years at 11 different Big Ten schools.

Those tickets included tickets on both sides of the stadium – across from each bench – for this past Saturday’s Ohio State/Penn State game, though he did not use the tickets after he was suspended by Michigan on Friday, when he was publicly identified as the leader of Michigan’s sign-stealing operation in multiple media reports.

According to the ESPN report, the tickets purchased by Stalions – who is employed by Michigan as an analyst for the football program – were all for games that did not include Michigan but included at least one team that the Wolverines were playing later in the season.

Sources indicated that Stalions forwarded tickets to at least three other individuals, with the ticket transfer showing up through ticket data tracking. Those tickets were used to get in the game by individuals other than Stalions, including the one in the video the NCAA is expected to receive.

Sources told ESPN last week of an "elaborate" scouting system, and that appears to be emerging less than a week after Yahoo Sports first reported that the NCAA was investigating Michigan's scouting. Stalions often purchased the tickets with his own credit card, according to sources. The sources added that tickets at multiple venues were bought via the online retailers like StubHub or SeatGeek.

The ticket purchases fall into a seat location pattern -- somewhere around the 45-yard line and raised up enough for a clear view of the opposite sideline.

One source told ESPN Stalions bought tickets to five different games at that school over the past three years. Another said it was four games over the past two years. A third source said it was nine games over the last three years. Some of the purchases were single tickets, others were for multiple people and sometimes seats were bought on both sides of the stadium near midfield.

One source said Stalions bought some tickets across from the home sideline in order to scout the home team, which Michigan played that year. But the source added there's also been tickets purchased on the other side of the stadium facing the sideline of the opponent, including one purchase across from the visiting sideline in the weeks before Michigan played Ohio State.

Per ESPN’s report, the NCAA is also expected to receive video evidence this week that shows a person in a seat purchased by Stalions using his smartphone to apparently film a team’s sideline for an entire game at an opposing Big Ten school.

While sign stealing in itself is not a violation of NCAA rules, scouting opponents in person and filming opponents for the purpose of sign stealing are both prohibited.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh denied knowledge of an illegal sign-stealing operation last week, saying in a statement Thursday that he does “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.” Both Harbaugh and the university have said they are fully cooperating with the NCAA’s investigation. 

View 454 Comments