Former Michigan Football Staffer Connor Stalions Purchased Tickets to Three Illini Home Football Games Since 2021

The former Michigan football staffer at the center of the sign-stealing probe used his own name to buy tickets through the Illinois athletics department for three Illini home games since 2021.

Matt Stevens, IlliniGuys Staff Writer

November 08, 2023

CHAMPAIGN — Connor Stalions, the now-former Michigan staff member at the center of a sign-stealing investigation by the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference, purchased tickets to three Illinois home games since the beginning of the Bret Bielema era.

The University of Illinois athletics ticket office confirmed to IlliniGuys.com Wednesday evening via the result of a public information request that Stalions, a 28-year-old retired captain in the United States Marine Corps, used his own name to purchase tickets to three Illinois home games inside Memorial Stadium.

According to the response sent to IlliniGuys.com following a Freedom of Information Act request sent out on Oct. 25, Stalions used his own name and information to purchase tickets through the University of Illinois athletics website to the Illini’s 2021 season opener against Nebraska on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021 - which is the first game Illinois head coach Bret Bielema took over the Illini program. Stalions also purchased tickets to an Illinois home game on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, against Maryland. Finally, Stalions purchased seats at Memorial Stadium for a game on Saturday Nov. 12, 2022, against Purdue.

The University of Illinois athletics department issued the following statement to IlliniGuys.com on Wednesday evening after a request for comment on this matter was sent out to athletics director Josh Whitman, Bielema and another other relevant athletics department officials.

"We are aware of the information provided today from our ticket office. We, like many of our colleagues, are continuing to cooperate with the appropriate parties regarding this matter."

Illinois defeated Nebraska 30-22 in the 2021 season opener but lost 20-17 to Maryland in the September 17, 2021, game and was defeated 31-24 by Purdue on November 12, 2022.

When the news of the investigation broke in late October, Bielema broadly addressed the issue surrounding the Michigan sign-stealing investigation by saying he wasn’t directly aware of anything being pursued by the NCAA or Big Ten officials but advocated for the promotion of a belief in fair play of the current rulebook by all administrators, coaches and staff members.

“As a head coach, I’ve picked up the phone and called another head coach when I feel something has been wrong. If not, I report to the Big Ten officials and kind of let them handle it. Because I think we all have to assume that’s happening,” Bielema said. “As a head coach, I work my tail off to get this job, this opportunity. I tell our coaches every day to do things the way they need to be done in a way that abides by everything we are. I think that’s the standard we all got to feel. Whatever’s going forward, we just believe that people are doing things right. I think that’s said in all phases of football, especially in this conference. I don’t know anything about that whole deal [at Michigan], but I know that’s how I’ve kind of approached it as a head coach.”

Sign-stealing in college football is not prohibited, but NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1 prohibits any in-person scouting of future opponents. Stalions, has been accused of in-person scouting opponents in advance and having other people video-record opponents’ sidelines in an effort to steal signs. Both of those actions are directly in violation of NCAA rules.

On October 20, the University of Michigan athletics department announced Stalions had been suspended with pay. ESPN.com reported via unnamed sources on Oct. 23 that Stalions, purchased tickets in his own name for more than 30 games over the past three years at 11 different Big Ten schools. On November 3, multiple outlets were able to verify the initial reporting by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports that Stalions had been officially dismissed from his position as an off-field analyst in the football program. Later that November 3 evening, University of Michigan officials eventually confirmed Stalions was no longer an employee by sending out a statement reading “Connor Stalions resigned his position with Michigan Athletics this afternoon. We are unable to comment further regarding this personnel matter”.

MLive.com confirmed Wednesday evening via two unnamed university officials that University of Michigan met a November 8 deadline to respond to the Big Ten’s notice of disciplinary action as the conference officials, specifically commissioner Tony Petitti contemplates whether to proceed with punishment for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines football program.

The Big Ten Conference issued a notice of disciplinary action to the Michigan athletics department on Monday, which is required under league rules “in the event it becomes clear that an institution is likely to be subjected to disciplinary action.”

ESPN.com reported via an unnamed source earlier Wednesday afternoon that “any potential discipline from Petitti is not expected until Thursday”.

Stalions is also the subject of an investigation at Central Michigan University, where it is believed he showed up on the sideline, wearing Adidas-branded CMU apparel, for a September 1 football game at Michigan State. Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain told reporters last week that "we obviously are aware of the picture floating around with the sign-stealer guy” and McElwain added that Stalions' name has not been on any sideline passes handed out for any game.

 

Podcasts

Instant Take on Kasparas Jakucionis Commit #364

Listen

May 24 Weekend (S3,Ep41)

Listen

Illini Legend Stephen Bardo - #363

Listen

Tyler Underwood 1-on-1 #362

Listen

May 17 Weekend (S3,Ep40)

Listen

Illini Legend David Williams & His Charity Golf Outing on June 8 #361

Listen

Huge Portal Kombat Win for Bret Bielema #360

Listen

May 10 Weekend (S3,Ep39)

Listen

Illini Baseball is Heating Up #359

Listen

Illini Add Euro Big #358

Listen

Ked's Recruiting Roundup - Interview with Ben Humrichous

Listen

May 3 Weekend (S3,Ep38)

Listen

Portal Kombat - Big Ben Commits & Portals Are Wild #357

Listen

NFL Draft Recap & Portal Kombat (Men & Women) #356

Listen

April 26 Weekend (S3,37)

Listen