The University of Michigan is making a name for itself in college football this season but for any of the right reasons. The Wolverines are currently under investigation by the NCAA for allegedly stealing the play-calling signs of opposing teams. At the center of this investigation is ex-Michigan staffer Connor Stalions.
Stalions, a lifelong Michigan Wolverines fan, graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served as a captain in the United States Marine Corps. He has worked alongside several Division I football programs and began volunteering with Michigan football in 2015. Stalions was hired for a full-time position with the Wolverines in May 2022 until he resigned on Nov. 3.
Stalions is being accused of buying tickets to several of Michigan’s upcoming opponent’s games and recording the team’s signs. In fact, ESPN reports that in the last three years, Stalions purchased over 30 tickets to games at 11 different Big Ten universities. Allegedly, he also sent tickets to at least three individuals, which sources say “hints at the breadth of the operation.”
In October, the NCAA received video surveillance from one Big Ten university that claims a person sitting in a seat purchased by Stalions was recording the home team’s sideline for the entire game. The NCAA rulebook strictly prohibits “any attempt to record, either through audio or video means, any signals given by an opposing player, coach or other team personnel…”
None of the tickets that Stalions purchased were to games involving the Michigan football team. The games either involved one or two of Michigan’s opponents that they would be playing later in the season.
Additionally, as the investigation has progressed, a seat location pattern for all of the tickets Stalions purchased has been revealed. The seats were all around the 45-yard line and high enough that the opposite sideline could be seen fully. At one point last season, Stalions even bought tickets on both sides of the field for a game where Michigan had yet to play either team.
Stalions has also been working on an almost 600-page document called “the Michigan Manifesto'' that he added to daily. In this document, he detailed his 15-year plan on how to effectively take over and run the Michigan football program.
On Nov. 1, Central Michigan University announced that they were opening an investigation into footage allegedly showing Stalions on the sideline during their game against Michigan State. The person was dressed in CMU gear matching the rest of the staff, had a visiting bench sideline pass, and wore sunglasses even though it was a night game. The university has yet to confirm if the person was actually Stalions.
Ahead of Michigan’s Week 10 matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers, Purdue head coach Ryan Walters openly shared his opinion on the situation.
“It’s unfortunate. What's crazy is they aren't allegations. It happened," Walters said. "There's video evidence. There's ticket purchases and sales that you can track back. We know for a fact that they were at a number of our games."
Stalions was suspended by the University of Michigan on Oct. 20 before submitting his resignation on Nov. 3. In a statement released by his attorney, Stalions wanted the public to know that Michigan head coach, Jim Harbaugh, did not encourage any of his staff to break the rules. However, multiple reports have said that Stalions has “refused to cooperate with any internal or external investigations.”
Although Harbaugh may not have known about what Stalions was doing, the NCAA’s head coach responsibility rules state that as head coach, he is responsible for everything that happens within his program whether he knows of it or not. This means there is an increased likelihood of Harbaugh being punished for Stalions’ actions.
Harbaugh himself was already suspended this season for alleged illegal recruiting during the dead period during COVID-19. He served a self-imposed three-game suspension at the beginning of the 2022-23 season.
In the midst of this ongoing investigation, the University of Michigan football program finds itself under scrutiny, raising questions about integrity and adherence to NCAA regulations. As the probe continues to unfold, the college football community awaits the findings and any potential consequences that may arise.