NCAA Investigates the Michigan Football Program on Sign Stealing Allegations

Jessica Aletor
Jessica Aletor
NCAA Football Sports News


  • Industry sources have reported that the NCAA is investigating the University of Michigan football program for violating rules prohibiting in-person scouts.
  • Under the NCAA Bylaw, teams are not allowed to conduct off-campus and in-person scouting of future opponents during the same season.
  • This news comes barely months after coach Harbaugh came under fire for Level II violations and was temporarily suspended by the school.

On Thursday, October 19, independent reporters first revealed that the University of Michigan has been scrutinized by the NCAA. The football program was alleged to have committed sign-stealing violations, thus triggering a sudden investigation from the Association.

The Big Ten Conference confirmed this investigation but has so far refrained from commenting on the substance of the issue. A sign-stealing scandal poses a problem to the Wolverines, currently ranked #2 in the country. Industry experts also say that the implications for Michigan sports betting are immense.

Michigan Coach Denies Sign-Stealing Allegations

The NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1. provides that “Off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season) is prohibited.”

In violation of this rule, Michigan has been accused of sending unnamed representatives to watch future opponents’ games and gather information about signs. Generally, these signs are used by teams to instruct and call plays on offense and defense positions. It is also possible that Michigan scouts attended the games of potential College Football opponents for the same reason.

Ideally, teams receive extensive video footage with which they scout opponents. This makes sense, as in-person scouting has been prohibited since 1994. Quite noteworthy is that the 2023 NCAA football book addresses sign stealing but does not impose any punishment.

“Any attempt to record, either through audio or video means, any signals given by an opposing player, coach, or other team personnel is prohibited,” the rule book reads.

Pending full investigation, a lot of issues remain unclear. The NCAA would be looking to confirm if Michigan used staffers or other random persons and whether information was collected by video. Investigations are also ongoing about the involvement of head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Since news broke out, Harbaugh denied knowledge of the scouting, claiming he would cooperate with the NCAA during the investigation.

“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 said.

According to ESPN, a former Marine is key in the investigations. Connor Stalions is a low-staffer with the Wolverines and a former captain. He currently works with the Michigan football team as a football analyst. However, on Friday, October 20, Stalions was suspended with pay pending investigation.

US Integrity Informs Sportsbooks of NCAA Investigation 

Multiple interested parties have been notified of the NCAA investigations. The MI State Spartans were informed ahead of their game with the Wolverines on Sunday, October 22. Michigan won that game convincingly 49-0. Two other opponents that had played Michigan mentioned to news outlets that became aware that Michigan knew their play signs during the games.

More importantly, the Big Ten Conference organizers have addressed the accusations.

"Late Wednesday afternoon, the Big Ten Conference and the University of Michigan were notified by the NCAA that the NCAA was investigating allegations of sign stealing by the University of Michigan football program," the Big Ten said in a statement released Thursday.

"The Big Ten Conference has notified Michigan State University and future opponents. The Big Ten Conference considers the integrity of competition to be of utmost importance and will continue to monitor the investigation. The Conference will have no further comment at this time."

Given the possible impact of this scandal on sports betting, U.S. Integrity, a Las Vegas company that monitors bets across the country, has warned Michigan sportsbooks. However, no sportsbook has pulled down the Wolverines from their future markets. At some sportsbooks, Michigan was also tipped favorites to win the College Football Playoffs.

Coach Harbaugh Embroiled in Separate COVID Scandal

This allegation is the second scandal coach Harbaugh has faced this season. He is under investigation for violating Level II rules, including meeting with recruits during COVID lockdowns, monitoring player workouts on Zoom, and using more coaches in practice than allowed. Harbaugh was suspended for the first three games of the season, with the case expected to be revisited at the end of the 2023 season.

A cause for concern is the absence of a punishment attached to sign stealing under NCAA rules. Many commentators believe the Wolverines may be punished with a postseason ban.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments