College Football

College Football’s Latest Scandal: Michigan Wolverines Accused of Sign-Stealing

The former Big Ten champions, the University of Michigan Wolverines, have been making sports headlines these last few weeks over allegations of sign-stealing. The team is currently ranked first in the Big Ten Conference with a record of 6-0 within the conference and an overall record of 9-0. As the Wolverines enter Week 11 of the college football season undefeated, their on-field performance is now being overshadowed by the allegations the team faces. 

As of October 19, 2023, the University of Michigan football team has been accused of sign-stealing and sending people to future opponents’ games this 2023-24 season to scout out the opponents’ signs and decipher the meanings. Not only that, but these allegations claim that this scandal dates back three seasons when the team allegedly began sign-stealing.

One allegation that the institution is facing is with regard to the team’s recruiting analyst Connor Stalions. Stalions allegedly purchased tickets to different games of future opponents and sent people to record the opponents’ signs. Following this allegation, various Big Ten institutions came forward and announced that they found tickets that were purchased under Stalions’ name. Additionally, the universities claim to have video surveillance of people occupying the recruiting analyst’s seats and pointing their phones towards the field.  

On October 19, the Big Ten Conference released a statement confirming the NCAA’s investigation into the allegations that Michigan was facing. Upon this investigation, there are also now photos allegedly showing Connor on the sidelines of Central Michigan’s season-opening game on September 1, where he can be seen wearing Central Michigan gear and sunglasses. Following these allegations and the investigation that is being conducted by the NCAA, the recruiting analyst was suspended by the university in October, and on November 3, Stalions decided to resign from his position.

Throughout the past few weeks, Michigan’s head football coach, Jim Harbaugh, who is now in his ninth season with the Wolverines, has continuously denied these allegations. The head coach has stated that he had no knowledge of any improper scouting conducted on behalf of his program. 

Many believe that following these allegations, the Wolverines will receive a suspension of their head coach. This would not be the first time that Harbaugh faced a suspension as he served a self-imposed suspension for three games at the beginning of this season. This self-imposed suspension came as a result of allegations that the team had committed NCAA recruiting violations.

While the NCAA does not have laws against sign-stealing, the organization has rules that prohibit in-person advanced scouting and the use of electronic devices to scout opponents’ games. If these allegations are proven true, Michigan is guilty of violating the NCAA rules. Various Big Ten coaches are calling on the NCAA to take action against Michigan. 

As a result, the University of Michigan has sent a 10-page report in response to the Big Ten Conference. This report was sent to the conference, arguing that the school deserves due process and that any punishment at this time would break the conference’s bylaws. The Wolverines are threatening to go to court if a sanction is given to the institution before the investigation is complete. 

The University of Michigan football team is receiving support from the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate as 11 members sent a letter to Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti. The bipartisan letter urges the commissioner to provide due process to the university and to ensure that the institution receives a fair investigation. It will be interesting to see how the NCAA investigation progresses in the coming days, and what decision Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti makes with regard to potential punishment.

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