Connor Stalions, the low-level Michigan football staffer who is at the center of an NCAA investigation into sign stealing and alleged scouting improprieties, resigned Friday.
Michigan athletics spokesman Kurt Svoboda told The Associated Press that Stalions resigned his position, effective Friday afternoon. The school had no further comment.
Stalions’ attorney, in a statement to The Athletic, said his client chose to resign because stories about him have created a distraction for the second-ranked Wolverines, who host Purdue on Saturday night and are among the favorites to reach the College Football Playoff.
“Connor also wants to make clear that, to his knowledge, neither Coach (Jim) Harbaugh, nor any other coach or staff member, told anyone to break any rules or were aware of improper conduct regarding the recent allegations of advanced scouting,” attorney Brad Beckworth said.
Stalions said in a statement to The Athletic that he loved Michigan and was grateful for the opportunity to work with Harbaugh.
“I do not want to be a distraction from what I hope to be a championship run for the team, and I will continue to cheer them on,” Stalions said in his first public comments since the scandal broke two weeks ago.
A person with knowledge of the situation initially told AP that Stalions, who was suspended with pay, had been fired. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Michigan is not disclosing internal personnel moves publickly, also said Stalions failed to show up for a scheduled hearing Friday and informed the school through his attorney he would not participate in any internal or external investigations.
The NCAA is investigating Michigan for allegedly sending people to opponents’ games to record video that would be used to decode their in-game signals.
“We know for a fact that they were at a number of our games,” Purdue coach Ryan Walters said Thursday on his radio show. “We’ve had to teach our guys a new language.”
Earlier Friday, Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti met with Michigan President Santa Ono and athletic director Warde Manuel as the conference weighs whether to discipline the Wolverines’ football program for the scouting and sign-stealing scheme. Big Ten spokeswoman Diane Dietz confirmed Petitti met with Ono and Warde, but provided no details.
Harbaugh, who served a three-game, university-imposed suspension earlier this season for an unrelated and still unresolved NCAA violations case tied to recruiting, has denied any knowledge or involvement in impermissible scouting of opponents.
Stalions was listed as a recruiting analyst for Michigan and had a LinkedIn account that said he was hired by the football program in 2022. Stalions is a graduate of the Naval Academy.
Multiple Big Ten schools have reportedly found records of tickets purchased in Stalions’ name to their games and surveillance video of the people sitting in those seats pointing cell phones toward the field. Photos on the internet suggest Stalions was on the Central Michigan sideline during the Sept. 1 game against Michigan State, wearing CMU gear and sunglasses.
Central Michigan football coach Jim McElwain said after the Chippewas’ game earlier this week Stalions’ name was not on his team’s pass list to have sideline access for the game. The Wolverines played and beat rival Michigan State 49-0 last month.
The NCAA’s investigation will likely stretch past the college football season, which ends Jan. 8 with the national championship game in Houston.
Big Ten bylaws provide a path for the commissioner to act more swiftly in matters of sportsmanship and competitive integrity. Petitti met by video call with Big Ten coaches and athletic directors earlier this week. Coaches expressed anger and frustration and encouraged the conference take action against Michigan, two people with knowledge of those meetings said.
The ADs, not including Manuel, discussed possible punishments for Petitti to consider — mostly focusing on suspending Wolverines coaches, starting with Harbaugh —- but no decisions were made, according to one of the people. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because the Big Ten was not making public its internal discussions on the Michigan case.
Michigan (8-0) is heavily favored to beat Purdue. Next week, Michigan is at No. 11 Penn State, then at Maryland before the regular-season finale against rival No. 3 Ohio State on Nov. 25. The games against Penn State and Ohio State will determine who represents the East Division in the Big Ten championship game Dec. 2 in Indianapolis.
Petitti, who has been on the job since May after taking over when Kevin Warren left to run the Chicago Bears, indicated to the Big Ten coaches and ADs he might reconvene with them on Sunday if an update was necessary.
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