U-M analyst Stalions resigns amid investigation
Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Elder WriterNov 3, 2023, 07:38 PM ET
- College football press reporter.
- Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
- Graduate of Northwestern University.Connor Stalions, the Michigan football analyst at the center of the NCAA’s investigation into unlawful off-campus scouting and signal stealing, resigned from his position Friday, the school announced.Stalions, who formally joined Michigan’s staff in 2022 but had actually been around the program for several years, was suspended with pay by the school Oct. 20, pending the outcome of the investigation.A source at first informed ESPN that Stalions had been fired, before Michigan later on announced Friday that he
had actually resigned. In a statement, the university stated it was”not able to comment further regarding this personnel matter.” Both Stalions and his attorney provided declarations to The Athletic on Friday night, stating in part that his decision to resign was to avoid being a diversion to the team, which is unbeaten (8-0 )and hosts Purdue on Saturday.Editor’s Picks 2 Related “I enjoy the University of Michigan and its football program,”Stalions told The Athletic. “And I am very grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to deal with the
extraordinary student athletes, coach
[ Jim] Harbaugh and the other coaches that have belonged of the Michigan football household during my tenure. I do not wish to be a diversion from what I intend to be a championship run for the team, and I will continue to cheer them on. “His attorney, Brad Beckworth, added, in part:”Connor also wishes to make it clear that, to his knowledge, neither Coach Harbaugh, nor any other coach or employee, told anybody to break any guidelines or understood incorrect conduct regarding
the recent allegations of advanced hunting. “According to a source, Stalions did not attend a conference Friday with Michigan officials, perhaps on suggestions of counsel. Sources are uncertain whether he will comply with the NCAA investigation, which is taking a look at whether
Stalions and Michigan managed in-person scouting of Michigan’s future opponents, breaching a rule established in 1994. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a long time Michigan fan, Stalions earned a wage of$55,000 and spent games on the Michigan sideline, typically speaking with defensive organizer Jesse Minter and other coaches. According to a LinkedIn page he recently erased, Stalions is a previous officer in the Marine Corps and dealt with Michigan as a volunteer for several years before signing up with the personnel in 2022. According to ESPN sources, Stalions acquired tickets to more than 35 games at 17 stadiums around the nation including Michigan opponents in the Big Ten and prospective College Football Playoff challengers. A previous Department III player and coach informed ESPN’s Dan Murphy that Stalions had paid him a number of hundred dollars to go to three Big 10 games involving future Michigan opponents and tape their sidelines on his smartphone.ESPN first reported Stalions’ participation in the NCAA probe, and sources informed ESPN’s Pete Thamel and Mark Schlabach that the NCAA enforcement personnel sought access to Stalions’ computer system as part of its investigation.Central Michigan said Tuesday it is investigating a man who resembled Stalions who appeared in its bench location for the Sept. 1 opener at Michigan State, after knowing of pictures of the male late Monday. The guy wore team-issued equipment and sunglasses for a night game in addition to one of the 50 bench passes provided
to non-players for games. Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain said following Tuesday’s game against Northern Illinois that school authorities are”familiar with an image drifting around with the sign-stealer guy, “and “doing whatever they can to get to the bottom of it. “CMU had not concluded its investigation as of Friday, a main informed ESPN.Anil Jain, a professor in the Department of Computer Technology and Engineering at Michigan State and a nationally acknowledged facial recognition specialist, believes it’s “extremely most likely”that the images of the guy using sunglasses and a hat on the Central Michigan sideline and an image of Stalions on the Michigan sideline are the same person.At ESPN’s request, Jain and Steven Grosz, a Ph.D. student, used cutting edge business face recognition system to compare the 2 pictures. The system compared the images based on a number of facial attributes– Jain stated they are trade tricks– to provide a similarity rating in the variety of absolutely no to one. The greater the resemblance rating, the more likely it is the 2 faces being compared are the same person.Jain stated the system produced a resemblance rating of 0.6 when comparing the two pictures. To validate that rating, Jain and Grosz compared Stalions’picture to a database of more than 4,500 images of white males.”The reason it’s 0.6 is because there’s a disguise,” Jain informed ESPN. “If I take a similar photo, it would be one. Even modifications in the position, lighting, expression, sunglasses, the match will never be ideal. Based upon this analysis, the two images are of the same person with high self-confidence.”Harbaugh, in a statement Oct. 19, rejected any knowledge of unlawful scouting or signal stealing, and stated he never ever directed anybody on his staff to engage in off-campus scouting. Harbaugh stated he and his personnel would cooperate with the investigation.Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti, going to the league’s field hockey tournament Friday at Michigan, consulted with university president Santa Ono, according to sources. The Big Ten’s sportsmanship policy gives Petitti the authority to investigate and discipline Michigan before the lengthy NCAA investigative and infractions procedure would conclude. Big Ten coaches and athletic directors on current calls have actually prompted Petitti to discipline Michigan, however so far no action has been taken.