The NCAA is investigating Michigan football amid sign-theft allegations

The NCAA is investigating Michigan football amid sign-theft allegations

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

The league approached Michigan State on Wednesday, ahead of this weekend’s matchup between the rivals in East Lansing, with what it called “credible evidence” that the Wolverines have successfully stolen the signals called for by opposing teams’ coaches this season.

Yahoo reported Thursday that the NCAA is investigating Michigan “regarding a possible violation of rules regarding scouting opponents in person.” Per NCAA Regulations 11.6.1, scouting future off-campus opponents in person (in the same season) is prohibited.

UM athletic director Ward Manuel spoke with Big Ten Commissioner Tony Pettitte on Wednesday regarding the matter. According to a source familiar with the allegation, as of Thursday afternoon, the evidence collected by the conference had not yet been provided to Michigan. School spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Thursday that the university is fully cooperating with the Big Ten and NCAA.

The league alleges that Michigan, said one source familiar with the allegation, is using a “wide net” to steal rival teams’ signs. The league told Michigan State that it had reviewed film that showed UM clearly knew what play the opposing team was going to make before the play began.

“The Big Ten Conference considers the integrity of competition to be of the 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 familiar with those conversations. On Thursday morning, MSU confirmed it would play the game.

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

Most notably, in 2020, Clemson was described as Best sign stealing program in college football. before 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.”

Both Washington and Utah accused Arizona State coach Todd Graham of stealing signs in 2015. At halftime of a 2014 game, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder accused Auburn of stealing signs. A year ago, Florida State accused Auburn of stealing signs in the BCS Championship game. The list goes on.

The question facing Michigan is whether these latest allegations go beyond just stealing signs on the field. According to the Yahoo report, sources claim that Michigan may have “used unnamed individuals to attend games of both scheduled opponents and potential College Football Playoff opponents in an effort to gather information about the signs they use to call offensive and defensive plays.”

Michigan is currently under an NCAA investigation for a series of Tier II rule violations related to recruiting during the coronavirus hiatus and statements provided to NCAA investigators.

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(Photo by Jim Harbaugh: David Berding/Getty)

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