Private Investigators, explained:

Since everybody is talking about these guys do they work? I asked one:

Good morning, and thank you for your continued support of Extra Points.

One of the most rewarding, but also frustrating, parts of working the Off-The-Field Stories in College Sports beat is that it constantly forces me to learn about stuff that, on the surface, has absolutely nothing to do with college sports.

In the early years of Extra Points, I had to suddenly learn about epidemiology and public health policy. I didn’t go to law school, but over the years, I’ve learned enough about labor law and antitrust policy to satisfy CLE requirements in every state (also, I learned what CLE requirements are). I’ve had to dig into the nitty gritty of influencer marketing, television media rights valuations, non-profit tax law, AAA video game development, and more.

The latest update to my eclectic and continuing self-education? The private investigations industry.

The biggest story in college football right now isn’t the College Football Playoff, or the open head coach positions at Michigan State and Northwestern, or the ups and downs of the Deion Sanders and Colorado. It’s all about the Michigan Sign Stealing Scandal and former Wolverine staffer Connor Stalions, a man who has managed to appear in more places than Where’s Waldo.

The Washington Post previously reported that a private investigations firm approached the NCAA with evidence it had collected on Michigan’s sign-stealing efforts, kicking off a formal investigation. I had also been told, from industry sources not affiliated with either Ohio State or Michigan, about a PI firm that had been investigating sign stealing.

Now, questions about who hired the firm, how it obtained the information, and what is permitted in that information-gathering process have launched a thousand podcasts, message board threads, and social media speculation. If you read Ohio State or Michigan message boards, you might be inclined to think Ryan Day’s family, or perhaps multiple members of the Michigan coaching staff, were about to be indicted for multiple felonies, if not treason.

While trying to sift through what might have a kernel of truth vs obvious fan fiction…I realized that I had a lot of basic questions about PI firms. I imagine many of my readers do too.

Luckily, I happen to have a friendly neighborhood PI. So I called him and asked if he could explain a few things to me.

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