The latest development coming from the suspended Michigan Wolverines football staff member at the center of a sign-stealing probe has him purchasing tickets to more than 30 games at 11 different Big Ten schools over the past three seasons, according to a media report.
ESPN learned that Connor Stalions, who was suspended with pay by Michigan, was found to have purchased the tickets and sent them to at least three different individuals in different parts of the country.
The tickets that were purchased by Stalions were as recent as this past week’s game between Ohio State and Penn State, though ESPN reports that the tickets were not used on Saturday.
The NCAA is also expected to get video evidence that people in those seats purchased by Stalions used illegal scouting technology; an opposing Big Ten school used in-stadium video surveillance to see a person in the seat using a smartphone positioned at the home team’s sideline for the entirety of the game.
Michigan was never the opponent in the game where tickets were purchased by Stalions, sources said to ESPN. However, the tickets were purchased for games where the opponents were facing Michigan later in the season, with the position of the seats “somewhere around the 45-yard line and raised up enough for a clear view of the opposite sideline.”
“The Big Ten conference considers the integrity of competition to be of the utmost importance. Due to the ongoing nature of the NCAA investigation, the conference has no comment at this time,” the league said in a statement Monday, per ESPN.
Stalions was suspended with pay one day after the NCAA launched an investigation into sign-stealing allegations, which athletic director Warde Manuel announced. Stalions is an off-field analyst with the football team, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Yahoo Sports initially reported that Michigan sent people to games of teams on their schedule to gather information on signs used to call plays on offense and defense.
“I want to make it clear that I, and my staff, will fully cooperate with the investigation into this matter,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday. “I do not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signals nor have I directed any staff member or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment.”
Harbaugh added, “I have no awareness of anyone on our staff having done that or having directed that action. I do not condone or tolerate anyone doing anything illegal or against NCAA rules. No matter what program or organization that I have led throughout my career, my instructions and awareness of how we scout opponents have always been firmly within the rules.”
Michigan has been dealing with NCAA discipline already this season, with Harbaugh serving a self-imposed three-game suspension amid an investigation into impermissible contact with recruits.
With that investigation ongoing, these allegations could be added to the mix, which may lead to greater punishment for Harbaugh and the program depending on how the investigation finishes.
The Wolverines are No. 2 on the AP Top 25 poll with the Purdue Boilermakers on the schedule for Nov. 4 in Ann Arbor.