NCAA investigates Michigan football amid sign-stealing allegations | ET REALITY


Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article said the Big Ten was investigating the allegations. The NCAA is conducting the investigation.

The NCAA is investigating the University of Michigan football program amid allegations of sign stealing, the Big Ten announced Thursday.

“UM Athletics will offer its full cooperation to the NCAA in this matter,” athletic 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. “This is the same expectation I have of all coaches, staff and student-athletes.”

The Big Ten reached out to Michigan State on Wednesday, ahead of this weekend’s showdown between the rivals in East Lansing, saying they have been informed there is “credible evidence” suggesting the Wolverines have successfully stolen requested signs by opposing team coaches this season.

The NCAA is investigating Michigan “for a possible violation of rules related to in-person scouting of opponents,” according to an industry source briefed on the matter. In accordance with NCAA bylaw 11.6.1, off-campus in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season) is prohibited. An issue with the statute would mean a case that would likely proceed through the traditional violations process.

Manuel spoke with conference commissioner Tony Petitti on Wednesday. According to a source briefed on the allegations, as of noon Thursday, Michigan had not yet received evidence collected in the investigation.

A source who was briefed on the allegation said Michigan is being accused of using a “vast network” to steal signs from opposing teams. The alleged evidence appears to suggest that UM had knowledge of what play an opposing team was going to make before the play occurred.

“The Big Ten Conference considers the integrity of the competition to be of utmost importance 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 it will play the game. Michigan’s upcoming opponents have been notified of the allegations and the games are expected to go ahead as planned, an industry source said Thursday.

“As we look forward to this Saturday’s football game, we are disgusted by the news of the NCAA investigation and echo the Big Ten Conference’s commitment to integrity. The allegations are concerning, but will be handled through NCAA processes. MSU has no further comment on the matter. “The university is focused on supporting our own team and preparing the campus for a safe environment on game day,” read a statement from Michigan State Interim President Teresa Woodruff.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he and his staff will “fully cooperate” with the investigation.

“I do not have any knowledge or information regarding the illegal sign theft of the University of Michigan football program, nor have I directed any staff or others to engage in an off-campus scouting effort,” Harbaugh said in a statement. a statement. “I’m not aware of anyone on our staff doing that or directing that action.”

The NCAA does not prohibit sign stealing unless a team intercepts electronic communication during the game. But it has a long history, with decades of accusations and allegations in college football.

Notably, in 2020, Clemson was touted as best sign stealing program in college football. Previous to the Sugar Bowl 2020Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables “always seems to know exactly what the other team is doing.”

Arizona State coach Todd Graham was accused by both Washington and Utah of stealing signs in 2015. At halftime of a 2014 game, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder accused Auburn of stealing signs. A year earlier, Auburn was accused by Florida State of sign stealing in the BCS championship game. The list goes on.

The question facing Michigan is whether these recent allegations go beyond sign stealing on the field.

Michigan is currently under investigation by the NCAA for a series of violations of Tier II rules related to recruiting during a COVID dead period and statements to NCAA investigators. Harbaugh served a three-game suspension imposed by the university.

— AtléticoNicole Auerbach and Austin Meek contributed to this report.

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(Jim Harbaugh Photo: David Berding/Getty)

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