Jan 1, 2024; Orlando, FL, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Nico Iamaleava (8) poses with the MVP Trophy after defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Report: NCAA eyeing Tennessee for possible NIL violations

The NCAA is investigating the Tennessee football program for possible NIL violations, Sports Illustrated and CBS reported Tuesday.

According to reports, the case centers around quarterback Nico Iamaleava, a Class of 2023 five-star recruit.

Iamaleava signed a lucrative name, image and likeness deal with Spyre Sports Group, Tennessee’s primary collective.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported last year that Iamaleava’s NIL deal was worth $8 million.

Tennessee has not received a formal notice of allegations from the NCAA, the university told news outlets.

Iamaleava appeared in five games for the Volunteers in the 2023 season. The freshman was named the Citrus Bowl MVP after rushing for three touchdowns and passing for one touchdown in a 35-0 win against Iowa on Jan. 1.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow takes the field to watch his team practice before facing the Jacksonville Jaguars at Everbank Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida Monday, December 4, 2023.

Reports: NFL clears Bengals after investigation into Joe Burrow injury disclosure

The Cincinnati Bengals were in full compliance with NFL injury report rules related to quarterback Joe Burrow’s status ahead of the team’s Week 11 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, according to multiple reports Saturday.

The NFL had conducted a weeks-long investigation into the timing and reporting of Burrow’s injury.

Burrow was knocked out of a Nov. 16 loss to the Ravens with what appeared to be a non-contact injury to his wrist. In the second quarter of the 34-20 loss, Burrow threw a touchdown then immediately grabbed his right arm near the wrist. He went to the medical tent and attempted several throws on the sideline before ultimately being ruled out.

A video posted the night before by the Bengals on social media — and later deleted — showed Burrow getting off the team bus with a protective wrap on his right hand. Burrow later told reporters the wrap was a compression sleeve to help prevent swelling during flights and unrelated to the injury suffered in the Nov. 16 game.

The NFL reportedly reviewed practice footage and medical records as part of the investigation, as well as interviewing medical personnel, according to CBS Sports.

Potential punishments for these types of violations would have included hefty team fines or even lost draft picks.

Burrow was found to have a torn ligament in his right wrist that required season-ending surgery on Nov. 27.

Prior to the injury, Burrow’s 91.0 rating was his lowest passer rating since his rookie year in 2020. He completed 244 of 365 passes (66.8 percent) for 2,309 yards and 15 touchdowns with six interceptions this season.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) walks off the field after the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 11 game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. The Bengals fell to the Ravens, 34-20.

NFL looking into Joe Burrow’s absence on injury report

The NFL wants to know why quarterback Joe Burrow did not show up on the Cincinnati Bengals’ injury report before Thursday night’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

A league official confirmed to ESPN on Friday morning that an investigation is underway into the wrist injury that knocked Burrow out of the game in the second quarter of a 34-20 loss.

A video posted by the Bengals on X on Wednesday night — and later deleted — showed Burrow getting off the team bus with a protective wrap on his right hand.

The NFL is checking into Cincinnati’s compliance with the league’s injury report policy. Potential punishments for violations include hefty team fines or even lost draft picks.

Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said he was unaware of Burrow dealing with an injury to his right wrist prior to the game in Baltimore.

“This was the first I saw anything about it,” Taylor said postgame.

Burrow went to the locker room after leading the visiting Bengals on a go-ahead drive in the second quarter. His pinky appeared to be bent awkwardly, and the QB spent several minutes in the medical tent.

Burrow bent over in obvious pain after throwing a 4-yard touchdown to Joe Mixon with 5:49 left in the second quarter for a 10-7 lead.

Before exiting, Burrow was 11-for-17 for 101 yards and the touchdown to Mixon. Jake Browning took over at quarterback for Cincinnati’s next offensive series, and he finished 8-for-14 for 68 yards and a touchdown.

The Bengals fell to 5-5 this season, during which Burrow has compiled the lowest passer rating since his rookie year in 2020. He has completed 244 of 365 passes (66.8 percent) for 2,309 yards and 15 touchdowns with six interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh watches from the sideline beside off-field analyst Connor Stalions, right, during the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium.

NCAA probing whether Connor Stalions was on CMU sideline

The NCAA has joined Central Michigan’s investigation into whether an unknown man who was spotted on the Chippewas’ sideline wearing their gear earlier this season was former Michigan football analyst Connor Stalions.

Stalions resigned from his position at Michigan last Friday after initially serving a suspension with pay while the NCAA investigated whether he was responsible for impermissible off-campus scouting and sign-stealing.

His resignation came three days after Central Michigan’s athletic director, Amy Folan, announced that the school was looking into whether photos of a man wearing sunglasses on their sideline Sept. 1 against Michigan State was, in fact, Stalions.

Folan told media outlets Monday that the university “continues its review of the matter in cooperation with the NCAA.”

Multiple outlets have reported that Stalions had purchased game tickets to watch Big Ten foes as well as several potential College Football Playoff opponents such as Georgia, Clemson and Alabama. Stalions also reportedly bought seats at numerous Big Ten games in areas where the opponents’ sideline signals could be viewed.

When Stalions resigned, he and his lawyer provided a statement to media outlets in which he said he acted alone and is stepping down to avoid making a further distraction for the unbeaten Wolverines, No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

“Connor also wants to make it clear that, to his knowledge, neither Coach (Jim) Harbaugh, nor any other coach or staff member, told anyone to break any rules or were aware of improper conduct regarding the recent allegations of advanced scouting,” attorney Brad Beckworth said.

Harbaugh has denied having knowledge of any wrongdoing and did not address Stalions’ resignation in Monday’s press conference.

A report from ESPN on Sunday said Michigan would respond with legal action if the Big Ten decides to suspend Harbaugh over the scandal.

–Field Level Media

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's college football program is being investigated for sign-stealing.

Jim Harbaugh denies Michigan pulled extension offer

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh pushed back against multiple reports that a contract extension is being withdrawn or at least put on hold due to the ongoing sign-stealing investigation, telling reporters he “wouldn’t say that’s accurate.”

He added it is against policy to talk about ongoing contract negotiations.

The NCAA is looking into the situation that includes potential recording of opponents’ sideline audio as well as unauthorized scouting.

Staff member Connor Stalions, the main figure in the alleged sign-stealing activities, has been suspended.

Under Harbaugh, the Wolverines have won 33 of their past 36 games and made the College Football Playoff twice. They are 8-0 (5-0 Big Ten) this season and, after having this past Saturday off, play Purdue Nov. 4.

Among the many details reported by various outlets, Sports Illustrated cited sources claiming Michigan’s ball boys on the opponent sideline listened to play calls and relayed the information. SI said the ball boys would hold a football in one hand for “run” and the other hand for “pass” plays.

At the outset of the investigation, Harbaugh issued a denial.

“I do not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signals, nor have I directed staff members or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment,” he said.

“I have no awareness of anyone on our staff having done that or having directed that action.”

On Monday he referenced that statement, adding that he’s not focusing on the investigation.

“We’re in an onward mode,” he said.

The contract extension reports said the potential deal would make Harbaugh the highest-paid coach in college football.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA;  General view of the kick off between the Michigan Wolverines and the Bowling Green Falcons in the first half at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Big Ten ticket purchases tied to Michigan staffer

Citing information from 11 different Big Ten schools, ESPN reported Monday that the Michigan staffer under investigation in a sign-stealing probe had purchased tickets for more than 30 conference football games over the past three seasons.

Connor Stalions was suspended with pay by Michigan, according to multiple outlets, after the NCAA began a probe into a Wolverines staffer using electronic equipment to decipher play calls from the sideline for various Big Ten teams, typically an opponent on the Michigan schedule later that season.

According to the report, Stalions has forwarded his purchased tickets at Big Ten stadiums other than Michigan’s to at least three other parties. Security footage from one unnamed Big Ten school reportedly revealed a person taping the home team’s sideline with an iPhone for the entire game from a seat purchased by Stalions.

Stealing signals from the sideline during a game is not a violation of Big Ten rules, but using electronic equipment to do so does violate a subsection of the NCAA football rulebook. Also under investigation is whether or not Michigan violated a separate scouting rule.

The No. 2 Wolverines (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) are in their bye week and will return to face Purdue at home Nov. 4.

Stalions was a volunteer at Michigan from 2015-22, according to ESPN, citing a LinkedIn account. He was hired by the school full time in May 2022 at a yearly salary of $55,000.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh denied having knowledge of his program illegally stealing signs and said he doesn’t “condone or tolerate anyone doing anything illegal or against NCAA rules.”

Michigan also is under investigation for potential recruiting violations during the COVID-19 dead period.

–Field Level Media

Apr 1, 2023; Ann Arbor, MI, USA;   Michigan Wolverines helmet on the sideline during the Spring Game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan suspends analyst amid sign-stealing investigation

No. 2 Michigan suspended football analyst Connor Stalions with pay on Friday as the NCAA investigates alleged rule violations relating to sign-stealing.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel confirmed the suspension in a statement to multiple outlets. Stalions had been identified as a person of interest in the NCAA’s investigation into whether the Wolverines broke a rule by scouting future opponents.

Scouting opponents is not illegal in the eyes of the NCAA, albeit with one major exception. NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1 reads as follows: “Off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season) is prohibited.”

Michigan and the Big Ten were both notified of the NCAA’s probe on Wednesday. Michigan’s remaining opponents this season were also notified, including Saturday’s foe, Michigan State.

Multiple reports said the Wolverines used a scouting system to steal and decipher future opponents’ signals from the sideline to the offense on the field.

Michigan coach John Harbaugh denied having knowledge of his program illegally stealing signs and said he doesn’t “condone or tolerate anyone doing anything illegal or against NCAA rules.”

–Field Level Media

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh looks on before running onto the field during the second half of U-M's 52-7 win over Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Ann Arbor.

NCAA investigating No. 2 Michigan for sign-stealing

The NCAA is investigating Michigan’s football program amid alleged rule violations relating to sign-stealing, the Big Ten Conference announced Thursday.

Michigan and the Big Ten were both notified by the NCAA of the probe on Wednesday. The conference said in a statement that it notified the remaining opponents on the schedule for the second-ranked Wolverines (7-0, 4-0), including Saturday’s foe Michigan State (2-4, 0-3).

“The Big Ten Conference considers the integrity of competition to be of utmost importance and will continue to monitor the investigation,” it said in a statement.

Michigan also released a statement.

“The university is fully cooperating with the Big Ten and NCAA,” the university said. “… At the University of Michigan, we are committed to the highest ethical and integrity standards for all members of our community.”

Yahoo Sports reported that two of Michigan’s opponents became aware that the Wolverines knew their play signs. The Detroit Free Press said Michigan allegedly sent “scouts” to attend games to gather information on the signs opponents use for specific play calls.

Scouting opponents is not illegal in the eyes of the NCAA, albeit with one major exception. NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1 reads as follows: “Off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season) is prohibited.”

Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh served a university-imposed three-game suspension to start the season for alleged Level II NCAA violations related to impermissible recruiting and coaching during the COVID-19 dead period.

–Field Level Media

Dec 25, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detailed view of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers helmet at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Death of ex-WR Mike Williams investigated for ‘unprescribed narcotics’

The death of former NFL wide receiver Mike Williams is being investigated after police received word that he might have been given unprescribed drugs.

In an email to multiple news outlets Tuesday, the Tampa Police Department said it’s looking into the possibility Williams received “unprescribed narcotics by an outside party” while he was hospitalized after a construction accident.

“We take all allegations of criminal activity seriously, and detectives are working tirelessly on this active investigation,” the police email said.

The Hillsborough County (Fla.) Medical Examiner’s office is also investigating Williams’ death.

Williams died on Sept. 12 at age 36. He suffered injuries in a construction accident that reportedly left him partially paralyzed, and he spent more than two weeks in the hospital before his death.

Williams was a Buffalo, N.Y., native who played nearby at Syracuse University. He burst onto the scene in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, catching 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns. His receiving TD total set the single-season club mark at the time for any player, and he wound up second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.

Williams finished his career with 223 catches for 3,089 yards and 26 touchdowns in 63 games (52 starts) across four years with Tampa Bay and one with the Buffalo Bills.

–Field Level Media

Aug 11, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA;  Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) looks on against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

NFL won’t punish Tyreek Hill for marina incident

The NFL said Thursday it will not take action against Dolphins wideout Tyreek Hill over an alleged assault at a Miami marina back in June.

News reports at the time of the incident said Hill allegedly struck a marina employee during a disagreement on June 18. Police investigated but no charges were filed. Attorneys for both sides released a joint statement in July announcing that the situation had been resolved.

Hill told reporters earlier this summer that he was not concerned about a potential punishment or suspension from the league. He said his only focus was on the upcoming season.

“When I’m able to come here and play ball, man, I get a chance to get away from all that at the end of the day,” Hill said. “So that’s the great thing about football. God has blessed me to be able to perform and do what I do, and I’m blessed and grateful for that, and I just can’t make bonehead mistakes like that.”

Hill, 29, is entering his second campaign with the Dolphins after playing his first six years with the Kansas City Chiefs. He posted career highs in receptions (119) and yards (1,710) and scored seven touchdowns in 17 games last season.

A seven-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro, Hill has career totals of 598 catches for 8,340 yards and 63 touchdowns in 108 games (90 starts).

–Field Level Media