NCAA Investigating Michigan for Allegedly Scouting Opponents In-Person to Steal Signs

By Dan Hope on October 19, 2023 at 12:47 pm
Jim Harbaugh
Kirthmon F. Dozier/USA TODAY Network

Michigan is now the subject of another NCAA investigation.

Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger and Dan Wetzel reported that the NCAA is investigating the Michigan football program for allegedly violating rules that prohibit teams from scouting future opponents in person. The Big Ten confirmed in a statement Thursday afternoon that the NCAA is “investigating allegations of sign stealing by the University of Michigan football program.”

Per the Yahoo Sports report, the issue being investigated is whether Michigan deployed individuals “to attend games of both scheduled opponents and possible College Football Playoff opponents in an effort to gather information on the signs they use to call both offensive and defensive plays.” While sign stealing is not specifically prohibited, off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents during the season is prohibited. Two of Michigan’s opponents already this season told Yahoo Sports they became aware that Michigan knew their play signs.

According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, “the NCAA's investigation also includes allegations of similar violations by Michigan prior to the 2022 season.”

ESPN’s Pete Thamel and Mark Schlabach reported early Friday morning that the investigation is centered on Connor Stalions, a Michigan analyst who was previously a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. The NCAA has reportedly sought access to Stalions’ computer as part of its investigation.

A source told ESPN that the Wolverines have used an "elaborate" scouting system to steal signals from future opponents since at least 2021. With the ongoing NCAA investigation into Michigan recruiting and coach Jim Harbaugh potentially facing additional penalties there, this separate investigation could significantly increase his exposure to additional suspension.


The allegations have rattled coaches and administrators around the Big Ten.

"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," a Big Ten source said. "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."

Harbaugh said in a statement that he and his staff “will fully cooperate with the investigation into this matter” but said 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.”

Michigan said in a statement that it “is fully cooperating with the Big Ten and the NCAA” but that “the investigation is ongoing” and that it will not impact Michigan’s game against Michigan State this Saturday.

According to The Athletic’s Brendan Quinn, Michigan State “initially warned the Big Ten it might consider not playing Saturday’s game out of concern for health and safety for its players,” but confirmed Thursday it would move forward with playing.

This is now the second active investigation into Michigan football by the NCAA this year. Michigan received a notice of allegations from the NCAA in January that tagged Harbaugh with a Level I violation for failing to cooperate with investigators and Level II violations for hosting recruits during the COVID-19 dead period, using too many coaches at practice sessions and watching player workouts over a video feed. Harbaugh served a self-imposed suspension for Michigan’s first three games of the season in response to those violations, but Harbaugh and the Wolverines could still potentially face further sanctions from the NCAA for those violations.

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