Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story said the Big Ten was investigating and gathering evidence. The NCAA is investigating and compiling, and alerted the conference.
The NCAA is investigating the University of Michigan football program amid sign-stealing allegations, the Big Ten announced Thursday.
“UM athletics will provide full cooperation to the NCAA in this matter,” athletics director Warde Manuel said in a statement Thursday. “At the University of Michigan, we are all committed to the highest standards of ethics and integrity for all members of our community. The same is expected of all faculty, staff and students.
Ahead of this weekend’s matchup between the rivals in East Lansing, the Big Ten reached out to Michigan State on Wednesday, saying it was aware of “credible sources” that say the Wolverines have successfully stolen signs called by opposing teams’ coaches this season.
The NCAA is investigating Michigan for a “possible rule violation involving in-person contact with opponents.” Per NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1, off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season) is prohibited. An issue at law refers to a case that can proceed through the traditional infringement process.
Manuel spoke with conference commissioner Tony Pettiti on Wednesday. As of Thursday afternoon, Michigan had not yet been presented with the evidence compiled in the investigation, according to a source briefed on the charges.
A source briefed on the allegations said Michigan is accused of using a “wide net” to steal opposing teams’ identities. Evidence appears to suggest that UM knew what the opposing team was going to play before the play occurred.
“The Big Ten Conference considers the integrity of the competition extremely important and will continue to monitor the investigation,” the league said in a statement Thursday.
Upon learning of the pending investigation, Michigan State initially warned the Big Ten that it might consider not playing Saturday’s game out of concern for the health and safety of its players, according to two sources briefed on those conversations. On Thursday morning, MSU confirmed the game would be played. Michigan’s upcoming opponents have been notified of the charges and games are expected to go ahead as scheduled, an industry source said Thursday.
“While we look forward to this Saturday’s football game, we are saddened by the news of the NCAA investigation, and we echo the Big Ten Conference’s commitment to integrity. The allegations are concerning, but will be handled through NCAA processes. MSU has no comment on the matter. We continue to support our home team and prepare campus for a safe game day environment. The university is focused on doing,” Michigan State Interim President Theresa Woodruff read in a statement.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he and his staff will “cooperate fully” with the investigation.
“I had no knowledge or information that the University of Michigan football program was illegally stealing signals, nor did I direct any staff or others to participate in off-campus scouting,” Harbaugh said in a statement. “I have no awareness that any of our employees did that or directed that activity.”
Autograph theft is not prohibited by the NCAA unless a team intercepts sports electronic communications. But it has a long history, with decades of accusations and accusations in college football.
Essentially, in 2020, Clemson was touted The best pass-stealing scheme in college football. previous For the 2020 Sugar BowlOhio State head coach Ryan Day said Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables “always seems to know what the other team is doing.”
Arizona State coach Todd Graham was accused of signal stealing in 2015 by both Washington and Utah. At halftime of a 2014 game, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder accused Auburn of stealing a pass. A year ago, Auburn was accused by Florida State of sign-stealing in the BCS championship game. The list goes on and on.
The question facing Michigan is whether these latest allegations go beyond on-field gesture stealing.
Michigan is currently under NCAA investigation for repeated Level II rule violations related to recruiting and reports to NCAA investigators around the time of Kovid’s death. Harbaugh served a three-game suspension imposed by the university.
– AthleticNicole Auerbach and Austin Meek contributed to this report.
(Jim Harbaugh Photo: David Berding/Getty)