ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — University of Michigan President Santa Ono sent an email to Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti, imploring the conference to wait for results of the NCAA’s sign-stealing investigation before potentially taking action against the Jim Harbaugh -led football program.
“The reputations and livelihoods of coaches, students, and program cannot be sacrificed in a rush to judgement, no matter how many and how loudly people protest otherwise,” Ono wrote in an email to Petitti on Thursday night before their meeting the next day. “Due process matters.”
Michigan athletics spokesman Kurt Svoboda shared the contents of Ono’s email with The Associated Press on Saturday night, when the third-ranked Wolverines played Purdue at home.
Connor Stalions, the low-level Michigan football staffer at the center of the probe into impermissible scouting and sign stealing, resigned Friday.
Stalions attorney, in a statement to The Athletic, said his client chose to resign because stories about him have created a distraction for the team. Stalions said, via his attorney, that to his knowledge none of the coaches told anyone to break rules or were aware of improper conduct regarding the recent allegations of advanced scouting.
“We know for a fact that they were at a number of our games,” Purdue coach Ryan Walters said Thursday on his radio show. “We’ve had to teach our guys a new language.”
The NCAA is investigating Michigan for allegedly sending people to opponents’ games to record video that would be used to decode their in-game signals. The Big Ten, according to Ono, has not begun an investigation regarding the allegations.
Harbaugh, who served a three-game, university-imposed suspension earlier this season for an unrelated and still unresolved NCAA violations case tied to recruiting, has denied any knowledge or involvement in impermissible scouting of opponents.
Ono and athletic director Warde Manuel met with Petitti on Friday, when he was town for the Big Ten field hockey tournament.
Big Ten bylaws provide a path for the commissioner to potentially act more swiftly in matters of sportsmanship and competitive integrity. Petitti met by video call with Big Ten coaches and athletic directors earlier this week.
“We are aware that other representatives of the Big 10 are demanding that you take action now, before any meaningful investigation and full consideration of all the evidence,” Ono wrote to Petitti. “And we both know it is not what any other member would want if allegations were raised against their people or programs.
“The Big 10 has not informed us of any investigation of its own, as would be required by conference rules.”
AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed.
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