NCAA Investigators Reportedly Interview Members of Jim Harbaugh’s Coaching Staff About Alleged Sign-Stealing Operation

By Chase Brown on October 26, 2023 at 4:30 pm
Jim Harbaugh
Nick King / USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA has arrived in Ann Arbor.

According to reports from ESPN and the Associated Press, NCAA investigators interviewed members of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching staff on Thursday about Michigan's alleged sign-stealing operation. The interviews were confirmed by sources who spoke to ESPN and the AP on condition of anonymity, as no one is authorized to speak publicly about details of the investigation.

Evidence from an outside investigative firm alerted the NCAA about potential impermissible scouting of opponents by Michigan, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday. The firm submitted videos and documented plans and budgets related to the impermissible scouting from computer drives maintained and accessed by multiple Michigan coaches.

The firm also suggested Connor Stalions, a low-level staffer whom Michigan has suspended, was not the only staff member at Michigan aware of the operation, according to the Washington Post's report. Another source later confirmed to the AP that a firm provided the NCAA with evidence, including documents, photos and videos that initiated the NCAA's investigation.

ESPN previously reported that Stalions purchased tickets to games at 12 of 13 Big Ten schools, the 2021 and 2022 SEC championship games and regular-season contests in four campus stadiums from four different College Football Playoff contenders in 2022. Overall, ESPN reported that Stalions purchased tickets for at least 35 games at 17 stadiums around the United States over the last three years.

According to ESPN and the AP, the NCAA has started to search the electronics of Michigan football staff members. ESPN reported last week that the NCAA had immediate interest in Stalions' computer. Now, the scope of the NCAA's intrigue has expanded.

The time frame of the NCAA's investigation is uncertain. Several outlets have reported that, logistically, the NCAA does not have the means to deliver a complete assessment before the 2023 college football season ends. According to NCAA bylaws, once the NCAA investigation ends and the association sends notice of allegations to Michigan, the university would have 90 days to respond. Therefore, if the investigation concluded this week, Michigan would not be required to respond until well after the Big Ten Championship Game and College Football Playoff.

Any action this season would have to come from the Big Ten, as the league has a Sportsmanship Policy that includes the authority for league commissioner Tony Petitti to deliver disciplinary repercussions to Michigan without the approval of the NCAA. Any such punishments would have to be approved by the Big Ten’s Joint Group Executive Committee, which is made up of representatives from schools across the conference.

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