Michigan has suspended football player Connor Stallions, athletic director Warde Manuel announced Friday.
Manuel said the Stallions were suspended with pay. He’s listed as a member of Michigan’s recruiting department specializing in analytics and is the centerpiece of the NCAA’s investigation into decoding other teams’ signals.
The NCAA notified Michigan and the Big Ten on Wednesday that it is investigating Michigan for possible rule violations related to in-person searches of opponents. A source briefed on the allegations said Michigan is accused of using a “wide net” to steal opposing teams’ identities.
Stallions retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2022 and joined Michigan’s football staff as an analyst. He previously volunteered in various capacities at Michigan and worked with the Navy football program from 2013 to 2016. In a recently-defunct LinkedIn bio, Stallions said his military background was “useful in identifying an adversary’s most likely course of action and most dangerous course of action” and “identifying and exploiting critical vulnerabilities.”
ESPN identified the Stallions as a “person of interest” in the NCAA investigation, and an industry source briefed on the investigation confirmed the NCAA was seeking information about his methods of decoding other teams’ signals.
Sign-stealing is not illegal in college football, but NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1 prohibits “off-campus, in-person searches of future opponents (in the same season).”
Stallions are popular in Michigan
Since returning to Michigan the Stallions have developed a reputation within the Wolverine program for their ability to decode enemy signals. A source close to the project described Stallions as “a genius” who is “exceptional in the game,” a real talent for things like the product of the Naval Academy, where Stallions is adept at spotting trends and knows what’s live. And what not. Sources involved in the Wolverines’ program say that decoding opponents’ signals is something the aspiring coach takes great pride in.
Perhaps, not coincidentally, the Wolverines had a representative within the conference for breaking down opponents’ signal systems.
“I think Michigan is very good at stealing your signals,” one Big Ten running backs coach said. Athletic Last fall. “They got our stuff quickly and they got us both ways.” — Bruce Feldman, senior college football writer
(Jim Harbaugh Photo: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty)