Michigan Staffer at the Heart of Signal-Stealing Scandal Resigns
Multiple sports media sources are reporting that the University of Michigan football analyst Connor Stalions, the staff member at the center of a scandal involving elaborate methods to steal the signals of opponents and potential opponents, has resigned.
The Athletic and ESPN have run prominent stories reporting that Stalions is no longer with the university. The Athletic characterized its report as a firing, but ESPN’s report indicates that Stalions resigned of his own accord. A terse statement from the university confirms that Stalions resigned.
Statement from Michigan: “Connor Stalions resigned his position with Michigan Athletics this afternoon. We are unable to comment further regarding this personnel matter.”
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) November 4, 2023
“According to a source, Stalions did not attend a meeting Friday with Michigan officials, possibly on advice of counsel,” ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reports. “Sources are unsure whether he will cooperate with the NCAA investigation, which is examining whether Stalions and Michigan orchestrated in-person scouting of Michigan’s future opponents, violating a rule established in 1994.”
Stalions allegedly paid individuals to attend games of upcoming opponents in the Big Ten as well as potential opponents outside the conference, record the sideline signals, and report them back to him. This week, reports also surfaced that Stalions may have attended at least one game to scout and steal signals himself.
“Friday’s news comes days after screenshots of a person who looks similar to Stalions was seen on the Central Michigan sideline during the team’s game against Michigan State began circulating online Monday night,” Nicole Auerbach and Austin Meek report at The Athletic. “The Athletic obtained more photos of the person on the sideline Tuesday, and CMU announced it was investigating whether Stalions was indeed on its sideline in CMU apparel for the Sept. 1 game against the Spartans. If the man on the CMU sidelines is indeed Stalions, this would be the first known example of him attending the game of a Michigan opponent in person weeks before the opponent played the Wolverines.”
ESPN asked a computer science professor and a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University to analyze photographs of the individual purported to be Stalions at the CMU game, and the two concluded with confidence that the man was Stalions.
Related: Things Are Looking Worse for Michigan’s Football Program
“A graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a longtime Michigan fan, Stalions earned a salary of $55,000 and spent games on the Michigan sideline, often consulting with defensive coordinator Jesse Minter and other coaches,” ESPN elaborated on Stalions’ background. “According to a LinkedIn page he recently deleted, Stalions is a former officer in the Marine Corps and worked with Michigan as a volunteer for several years before joining the staff in 2022.”
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has denied knowledge of any illegal actions, but he said that he would cooperate with any investigation. Harbaugh faced a three-game suspension at the beginning of the season for unrelated recruiting violations that took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coaches at Big Ten schools have urged conference president Tony Petitti to enact disciplinary measured against Michigan, but he has yet to do so. The coaches believe that there’s already enough evidence to prove that Michigan committed illegal acts.
“Petitti does have the ability to issue punishment under the Big Ten’s sportsmanship policy, but he has told administrators and coaches previously he wants to let the investigative process play out, which includes giving Michigan a chance to respond to the NCAA’s findings,” Auerbach and Meek write.
The Wolverines are ranked number three in the initial College Football Playoff poll. It remains to be seen what effect the growing scandal will have on future rankings.