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Another cheating scandal roils college sports

Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Wolverines

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: There’s cheating going on in college sports and no one knows what to do about it.

Actually, the situation that has arisen with the University of Michigan’s football program is still at the alleged status, as there have been no official findings and no admissions of guilt in a matter where there are accusations that the Wolverines, or people on their behalf, have been stealing signs from the opposition.

For the record, the Michigan head coach, Jim Harbaugh, the brother of the Ravens’ John Harbaugh, has explicitly denied knowledge or complicity in the matter.

But, in a world that traffics in the credo that if you ain’t cheatin,’ you ain’t tryin,’ it’s hard to take Jim Harbaugh or any college coach seriously. Numerous outlets are reporting that Connor Stalions, who is listed as a Michigan recruiting analyst, has developed a rather intricate system of pilfering opponents’ signs.

Allegedly, Stalions, a Navy grad and Marine Corps captain, was in charge of a network where people watched Michigan’s opponents in advance of games and reported back what they saw. Or they recorded the signs and transmitted their findings to a central location.

While you’re allowed to decipher signs in the moment, NCAA rules do not permit you to do it using advance intelligence or by audio or video recordings.

The NCAA, the college sports governing body, has launched a preliminary inquiry into the allegations. That could blossom into a full blown investigation especially if the interrogators find something on Stalions’ computer.

Now, to be clear, sign stealing is a way of life, not only in football, but in baseball and other sports where communications between the sidelines and the playing field can be intercepted.

That sort of thing hardly seems, well, sporting, especially in a game like football that sells itself on honor and character and truth from man to man and among teams themselves.

And this seems particularly noteworthy on the college level, where coaches sit in the living rooms of potential recruits and pledge to moms and dads that they will turn their callow boys into men of integrity.

This current allegation finds Michigan and Harbaugh in a particularly precarious position.

The coach, who led his alma mater to the Final Four of football last year and who is leading the No.2 ranked team in the nation this season, is already on a dangerous limb, ethically speaking.

The NCAA believes that Harbaugh may have lied about meeting with recruits during a time when he wasn’t supposed to.

The university suspended the coach for the first three games of this season in an attempt to forestall further punishment, but that case and this case combined could be the end of the line for Harbaugh in Ann Arbor.

Of course, there’s been scuttlebutt that Jim Harbaugh was looking to rejoin his brother back in the pro ranks even before all this.

You see, in the pros, what you might call cheating is known as gamesmanship. And gamesmanship just might suit Jim Harbaugh to a T.

And that’s how I see it for this week. You can reach us via email with your questions and comments at Sports at Large at gmail.com. And follow me on Threads and Twitter at Sports at Large.

Until next week, for all of us here, I’m Milton Kent. Thanks for listening and enjoy the games.