Ticket buys to multiple Big Ten games found in name of suspended Michigan staffer, AP sources say

0
91
FILE - Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) rushes Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Nov. 27, 2021, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Ticket purchases to football games in the name of a suspended Michigan football staffer who is the focus of an NCAA investigation into an alleged sign-stealing scheme have been found by multiple Big Ten teams.

Eleven schools in the Big Ten said they had found evidence that Connor Stalions, an analyst at Michigan, purchased tickets to at least one of their games over the past three seasons, ESPN reported Monday, citing unidentified sources.

The Associated Press confirmed through officials at three Big Ten schools that they had found electronic purchases of game tickets in Stalions’ name. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no one was authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation.

One school found ticket purchases under Stalions’ name to at least four of its home games over the past two years, one of the people said.

Another school found ticket purchases under Stalions’ name to five home games over the last three seasons and that some of the tickets were electronically transferred to other individuals’ names, another person said. A third school found a purchase under Stalions’ name to a game two weeks before its team played Michigan last season, another person said.

Michigan announced Friday that Stalions had been suspended with pay, pending the conclusion of the investigation. Michigan spokesman Dave Ablauf said Monday the school could not comment on the ongoing investigation.

At least one school has found video surveillance footage from inside its stadium that showed an individual appearing to use a cell phone to record what was happening on the field, ESPN reported. The network also said he purchased tickets for Ohio State’s home game with Penn State on Saturday, though the tickets were not used; Michigan plays both teams later this season.

Michigan and the Big Ten acknowledged the NCAA was investigating allegations of sign stealing last week. The conference informed all of Michigan’s upcoming opponents of the allegations.

The second-ranked Wolverines (8-0) defeated Michigan State 49-0 on Saturday night. Michigan, which has won the last two Big Ten championships and is a favorite to play for the national title, is off this week.

NCAA rules do not directly ban the stealing of signs, but there are rules against using electronic equipment to record an opponent’s signals. One NCAA bylaw also bans “off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season).” There are also rules against unsportsmanlike or unethical activities by coaches, and head coaches are generally considered to be responsible for violations that occur under their watch.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh served a three-game, university-imposed suspension earlier this season for an unrelated and still unresolved NCAA violations case tied to recruiting.

Stalions is a retired captain in the Marine Corps and a graduate of the Naval Academy. He was hired as an off-field analyst at Michigan in May 2022, according to a LinkedIn profile that has been de-activated.

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com. Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football