Tickets for the last two Southeastern Conference championship games were purchased in the name of a suspended Michigan football staffer who is the focus of an NCAA investigation into an alleged sign-stealing scheme, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because no one was authorized to speak publicly about an open NCAA investigation, said electronic records revealed Connor Stalions bought tickets to the games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
ESPN was first to report that in addition to tickets being purchased in Stalions’ name to multiple games involving most of Michigan’s Big Ten rivals over the past three years, he also bought tickets to the games of several potential College Football Playoff opponents for the Wolverines.
Michigan has won the Big Ten and played in the CFP each of the last two seasons. The Wolverines lost to Georgia 34-11 in the Orange Bowl semifinal of the 2021 playoff after the Bulldogs had lost the SEC title game to Alabama.
Last season, Michigan lost 51-45 to TCU of the Big 12 in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal.
Georgia defeated LSU in the SEC championship game and went on to win a second straight national title by beating Michigan’s Big Ten rival, Ohio State, and TCU in the CFP.
Michigan and the Big Ten acknowledged the NCAA was investigating allegations of sign stealing last week. The conference informed all of Michigan’s upcoming opponents of the allegations.
The second-ranked Wolverines (8-0), who are off this week, are currently the co-favorites with Georgia to win the national title, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
NCAA rules do not directly ban the stealing of signs, but there are rules against using electronic equipment to record an opponent’s signals. One NCAA bylaw also bans “off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season).” There are also rules against unsportsmanlike or unethical activities by coaches, and head coaches are generally considered to be responsible for violations that occur under their watch.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh served a three-game, university-imposed suspension earlier this season for an unrelated and still unresolved NCAA violations case tied to recruiting.
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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football