Ann Arbor — Fired Michigan linebackers coach Chris Partridge said in a statement Monday that he was not aware of any in-person or illegal scouting or illegal sign stealing and said he never destroyed evidence related to an ongoing NCAA investigation into the football program.
Partridge, who was fired Nov. 17, just hours before the team left for a game at Maryland, said he waited until after the conclusion of the regular season to issue his statement so as not to be a distraction to the team. His firing was related to the investigation into an alleged sign-stealing scheme orchestrated by former employee Connor Stalions. Stalions initially received a paid suspension on Oct. 20, a day after the Big Ten confirmed the NCAA investigation, and has since resigned.
The Big Ten suspended Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh for the final three games of the regular season for a violation of the league’s Sportsmanship Policy related to this investigation.
“Unfortunately, the way the termination of my employment and coaching role at Michigan has been reported is inaccurate and has led to people speculating and making assumptions about my knowledge of and connection to the sign-stealing allegations within the report.” . football program,” Partridge wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter/X account. “I want to be clear: I had no knowledge of any in-person or illegal scouting or illegal sign theft. Additionally, at no time did I destroy any evidence related to an ongoing investigation.”
The Detroit News reported Nov. 17 that Partridge was fired because he pressured players to lie or not cooperate with NCAA investigators who had been conducting interviews on campus, according to two sources connected to the university. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, described the pressure Partridge applied to players, and that information was revealed that week to NCAA investigators, who then relayed the information to the Big Ten.
The NCAA has shared the results of its sign-stealing investigation with the Big Ten, including this revelation about Partridge. Also on Nov. 17, attorneys representing Harbaugh and the University of Michigan withdrew from a hearing in Washtenaw County Court to seek a preliminary injunction to block Harbaugh’s suspension.
“As explained to me personally by Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel on the morning of November 17, 2023, and as stated in my termination letter of the same date, signed by Doug Gnodtke, Michigan Athletics Chief of Staff.” , Partridge wrote, “I was fired for failing to ‘follow the University’s directive not to discuss an ongoing NCAA investigation with anyone associated with the Michigan Football Program.’
“I pride myself on being a trusted mentor to the athletes I coach. One of my core values is to be a source of support, through thick and thin, to each and every student-athlete for whom I am responsible. I have never abandoned that responsibility. While I am extremely disappointed in the University’s decision to terminate my employment, their decision does not change my continued love and support for Coach Jim Harbaugh, the coaches and players of Team 144 as they continue their quest for a National Championship.
Partridge, 43, rejoined Harbaugh’s staff this season after spending five years at Michigan under Harbaugh. He had been at Ole Miss the past three years before returning to Michigan earlier this year. Rick Minter, a former college head coach and current defensive analyst at Michigan, has been coaching linebackers since Partridge’s firing. Minter is the father of Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter.
Michigan is 12-0 and prepares to face Iowa in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday.