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Michigan fires assistant coach over alleged involvement in sign stealing

Chris Partridge on the sideline

Apr 13, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines special teams coordinator Chris Partridge looks on during the spring football game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan has fired another member of Jim Harbaugh’s staff amid the ongoing investigation into the school’s sign-stealing scheme.

Michigan on Friday announced that linebackers coach Chris Partridge has been terminated. Ross Dellenger and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports report that the decision was made after new evidence was presented this week from the investigation into Michigan’s illegal scouting endeavors.

While there is no evidence that Partridge knew about former Michigan staffer Connor Stalions illegally scouting opponents, NCAA investigators learned that after news of the scandal broke, Partridge attempted to help cover up the activity by allegedly destroying evidence on a computer.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel shared a similar report, noting that Partridge’s dismissal and the decision to accept Harbaugh’s three-game suspension “mark a sea change” in how Michigan has viewed the sign-stealing investigation.

To this point, Michigan had maintained that Stalions acted alone. The former Michigan staffer said in a statement announcing his resignation earlier this month that “to his knowledge, neither Coach 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.”

It appears even Michigan no longer believes that is the case.

A Sports Illustrated story that was published last month included some 2021 text messages that Stalions exchanged with a friend in which Stalions talked about his connections to the Wolverines program. In one of the texts, Stalions boasted that he had become “close with the whole staff” and in particular that he “became close with CP and Jay Harbs.” He was likely referring to Partridge and Michigan assistant coach Jay Harbaugh, who is Jim’s son.

The Big Ten announced last Friday that Harbaugh has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season. Michigan immediately responded by filing a temporary restraining to block the suspension, arguing that there has been no concrete evidence that shows Harbaugh took part in any sign-stealing activity or gave any directives. Michigan also made a big accusation about the timing of the suspension.

Now, Michigan has accepted Harbaugh’s suspension and fired an assistant coach in exchange for the Big Ten closing its investigation. The NCAA’s investigation remains ongoing, which should make Wolverines fans even more uneasy given the latest development.

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