Report: Vikings minority owner accused of blackballing Jim Harbaugh
During the 2022 offseason, the Minnesota Vikings’ open head coaching position was centered around two candidates: Kevin O’Connell, who eventually landed the position, and current Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
During this period, there was speculation that Harbaugh would be leaving his alma mater to be named head coach of the Vikings following his interview. However, negotiations took an unexpected turn, resulting in the team’s quick announcement of O’Connell’s hiring.
Almost two years later, there seems to be a clearer understanding of why Harbaugh didn’t get the job. Jim Stapleton, a Michigan booster and minority owner with the Vikings, is facing accusations of blackballing Harbaugh during his interview for the position.
During his appearance on the Morning Juice show on 97.1 The Fan, Michigan author and journalist John U. Bacon suggested that a significant portion of the information surrounding the sign-stealing scandal controversy in Ann Arbor, including the NCAA’s investigation, could possibly be originating from Stapleton, who has a longstanding dispute with Harbaugh.
“They’re getting leaks like crazy from the NCAA…watch a guy named Jim Stapleton,” Bacon said during his radio appearance. “Jim Stapleton is a Michigan alum who blackballed Harbaugh when he was [interviewing] with the Minnesota Vikings because [Stapleton] was on the board for the Minnesota Vikings. He now got himself onto the NCAA Infractions Committee and he hates Jim Harbaugh. It doesn’t matter who the source is or if it’s right or wrong. If Michigan did it, they’ll still pay a price. That’s not the point. You can’t kill the messenger. But as far as the leaking goes, I would guarantee you that’s where it’s coming from.”
Stapleton released a statement Thursday afternoon responding to Bacon’s claims.
It’s important to note that the issue at hand may not directly cast a negative light on the Wilfs’ ownership of the Vikings, but it could bring to the forefront serious concerns regarding the organization’s decision to potentially include an individual with alleged character issues on the team’s board.
Stapleton as minority owner plays a vital role in financing team operations, influencing major decisions, along with working closely with team executives.
While it remains uncertain if an investigation will be launched or if ownership will respond in any way, this situation further complicates the Michigan sign-stealing controversy and raises questions about Stapleton’s continued involvement in the team’s future hiring process.