February 26, 2024

Michigan businessman Tim Smith is well-known among fellow Michigan boosters as the head of a Detroit-based engineering solutions company who previously sat on the Champions Circle, an NIL collective for Michigan Wolverines athletics. 

Smith has been mentioned as being “Uncle T,” an unknown Michigan donor who allegedly became involved in the school’s sign-stealing operation by contributing financially to the scheme. 

Smith has strongly denied he is “Uncle T.” The Athletic made contact with Smith, who said his attorney informed him his name had been floated as the mysterious booster. 

The money in question was believed to have directly benefited former Michigan football staffer Connor Stalions through his alleged advanced scouting of the Wolverines’ opponents

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An exterior view of Michigan Stadium

The Michigan logo at Michigan Stadium (Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Smith claims his name is being used in an attempt to make him a “scapegoat,” according to Yahoo Sports. He also noted he learned Friday he was kicked off the Champions Circle.

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Smith denies being involved in any financial transaction with Stalions, The Athletic reported. He also said he has never been referred to as “Uncle T.”

“I’ve never heard that term,” Smith said. “No one has called me that or referred to me as that.”

Michigan Wolverines helmet

A Michigan Wolverines helmet before the VRBO Fiesta Bowl national championship semifinal game between the Michigan Wolverines and the TCU Horned Frogs Dec. 31, 2022, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.  (Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Smith confirmed to Yahoo Sports he’s had conversations with Stalions since Stalions left his job with Michigan football. However, Smith clarified that he does not consider himself to be a close personal friend of Stalions, saying he simply knew him “as well as any other [football] staff person.”

Smith added that Stalions informed him the sign-stealing effort was funded by the money he made from selling a house.

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Earlier Friday, Michigan announced that linebackers coach Chris Partridge had been dismissed effective immediately. Rick Minter will serve as the Wolverines’ linebackers coach for Saturday’s game against Maryland.

Michigan megaphones on the sidelines during a football game

Michigan cheerleaders shout into their megaphones at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich.  (Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The university did not specify whether Partridge’s removal was connected in any way to the ongoing sign-stealing scandal. 

“Effective today, Chris Partridge has been relieved of his duties as a member of the Michigan football staff,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement Friday.

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On Thursday, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh agreed to accept his three-game suspension. The decision effectively canceled a previously scheduled hearing that would have discussed whether Harbaugh could coach the team for either of the two remaining regular-season games.

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