The Michigan Wolverines are deeply embroiled in a college football controversy. The sign-stealing scandal has divided the college football world and has already seen the suspension of a member of the Wolverines staff.
Who is Connor Stalions, the man at the very middle of the mayhem mapping around Michigan?
Who is Connor Stalions?
As an NCAA investigation into alleged sign-stealing by the University of Michigan got underway earlier in October, Stalions became the first person to be named as being involved in a process that has been banned since 1994. The Michigan analyst has gone from a relative unknown to being the most talked about member of the Wolverines coaching staff in light of the scandal.
Stalions is a Michigan native who has been a longtime fan of the Wolverines. Both parents are University of Michigan alumni. His father was an 8th grade football coach, and a young Connor helped coach that team after stopping playing football in his junior year.
A graduate of the Naval Academy, Stalions further honed his coaching skills under long-time Midshipmen head coach Ken Niumatalolo while spending his summers volunteering at Michigan camps. After spending several years doing that, he earned a position on the Wolverines coaching staff as an offensive analyst — fulfilling a lifelong dream.
A retired captain, Stalions name first came to light on Oct. 20, when Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel released a statement to the media explaining that “Michigan Athletics suspended Connor Stalions today, with pay, pending the conclusion of the NCAA investigation.”
The NCAA investigation is still ongoing, but more details about Stalion and his actions have come to light since he was publicly named and subsequently suspended by Manuel. ESPN reported that interest in the Michigan offensive analyst by the NCAA team investigating the scandal was so high that they “sought access to his computer as part of its investigation.”
It is alleged, with evidential contributions from multiple schools across the country, that Stalions purchased tickets for more than 30 games over the past three years according to ESPN. Photos have circulated on social media of money transfers linked to the Michigan staffer which seem to indicate that he passed the tickets on to people across the country.
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While “sign-stealing” isn’t illegal by the NCAA rule book, in-person scouting and videoing future opponents is — as per Article 11 subsection H of the NCAA’s football rules:
“Any attempt to record, either through audio or video means, any signals given by an opposing player, coach or other team personnel is prohibited.”
Stalions is alleged to be the ringleader of an operation to video the sidelines of games featuring teams on the Michigan schedule. The size of the operation was revealed in a Washington Post article that alleges that scouts from the program would attend over 40 games in 2023 at a cost of over $15,000.
It is alleged that Michigan has been engaging in the practice since 2021. Since then, the Wolverines have lost just three games and are currently on an unbeaten run and a collision cause with the Big Ten Championship Game and College Football Playoff. The program had lost three or more games in every season since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach in 2015.
Attempting to distance himself from the allegations, Harbaugh released a statement in the immediate aftermath of Stalions being named and subsequently suspended by Michigan.
“I do not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signals,” Harbaugh said as part of a lengthy statement, “nor have I directed any staff member or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment.”