Michigan scandal sparks player injury concerns, athletic directors say Big Ten must ‘step up’

Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti hosted a conference call with athletic directors from around the conference Thursday to discuss Michigan football’s alleged license plate theft operation, according to an ESPN report.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel was reportedly not involved in the video. Sources told ESPN that various athletic department officials have voiced their support for action by the conference regarding the license plate theft scandal.

Earlier this week, Petitti is believed to have had a meeting with trainers. Petitti is also believed to have informed those attending Thursday’s meeting that he would wait for more facts to be discovered before making any decision.


Michigan Wolverines Helmet

Michigan Wolverines helmet on the sideline during the Spring Game at Michigan Stadium. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

In addition, Petitti is believed to have met with the NCAA to discuss the alleged business. However, it remains unclear whether college football’s governing body will share information with Petitti and the Big Ten as it becomes available during its investigation.

Petitti also expressed his desire to discuss the issue with school presidents from across the Big Ten, per ESPN. He also appears to want to learn more from Michigan officials and possibly have further discussions with the NCAA.


“The athletic directors had a clear message — we think the conference needs to step up,” a source familiar with the context of the call told ESPN.

The Big Ten logo on media days

The B1G logo displayed on the microphone stand during Big Ten Conference Media Days on July 27, 2023. (Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Some have raised questions about whether the Big Ten might launch its own investigation into possible violations of the conference’s sports conduct policy by Michigan. According to the report, Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller expressed concern that the Spartans were put in a situation where they felt they had to make major adjustments to their signals just days before playing the Wolverines.

The Spartans’ athletic director is also believed to have raised concerns about players potentially suffering injuries if Michigan’s players were aware of the call. In theory, Michigan players would be informed of where a player from the opposing team is playing on a given play.

Big Ten Commissioner Tony Pettiti speaks during media day

Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti speaks at Big Ten Football Day at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 26, 2023 in Indianapolis. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

School administrators also reportedly shared their willingness to help Petitti address the issue.

“The athletic directors provided more guidance on a path forward,” another source familiar with the call told ESPN. “The coaches spoke highly of the emotion.”


The Wolverines are currently 9-0 and are the third seeded team in the College Football Playoff. Michigan was on a bye week last weekend, but they return to action this Saturday for a matchup with Purdue.

According to a report by Yahoo Sports, Michigan is accused of sending people to games teams are about to play to gather information about the signs used to call plays on offense and defense. Michigan football executive Connor Stallionswho is believed to be at the center of the investigation, was suspended with pay late last month.

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