Michigan football staffer was barefoot, bit lab tech after drunk driving arrest

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Fergus Connolly, 40, also told an officer he would “put him in a wheelchair,” according to the police report.

Connolly has not been formally charged in the incident. Police say they are waiting for laboratory results, which could take several weeks.

An Ann Arbor police report obtained through the Freedom of Information Act details the allegations against Connolly: that he crashed an SUV – one that may have been a university vehicle – while drunk driving, was combative, shouted profanities, refused a preliminary breath test and denied he was drunk.

Michigan football staffer suspected of drunken driving

Connolly’s Ann Arbor-based attorney, Joseph Simon, in an email on Wednesday, March 14, declined to comment on the police report before formal charges are filed.

Connolly joined Michigan’s athletic department in 2016 and has spent the last two seasons as the football team’s director of performance. He added director of Michigan’s football operations to his job responsibilities prior to the 2017 season.

There had been no change to Connolly’s job status with the university as of Tuesday evening, Michigan football spokesman Dave Ablauf said. Ablauf has not seen the police report and would not comment on the allegations to The Ann Arbor News.

Connolly was found shoeless – his feet bloody – and incoherent at Second and Madison streets shortly after a reported hit-and-run crash at First and Mosley streets on the city’s West Side about 11:50 a.m. March 5, according to the police report.

A witness to the crash – which forced a parked Ford vehicle into a driveway – said the driver of the Chevrolet Tahoe involved “looked so angry” before driving away, according to the police report.

Shortly after, police found Connolly standing barefoot in a snow bank, according to the report. He was not dressed appropriately for the cold day and was leaning against a tree speaking on his cellphone, the report said.

Officers on scene noted his speech was slurred and he didn’t have a wallet or identification, according to the police report. Police had to look him up on the internet to confirm his identity.

Connolly had injuries to an arm, his stomach, and his feet, and Ann Arbor police Officer Garrett Marshall said in his report that Connolly was unaware of where he’d come from.

“He was disorientated and smelled of intoxicants,” according to Officer Stephanie Kjos-Warner’s report. “His eyes were glassed over, as he stared at (the responding officer) and handed his cell phone to her.”

Connolly had been speaking by phone to a University of Michigan police officer named “Goshi,” who told Kjos-Warner he’d been encouraging Connolly to turn himself in, police said.

Teresa Oesterle, deputy director for the Michigan Division of Public Safety & Security, said in an email that the department has an Officer Goci – identified as Milot Goci in UM records – but did not immediately have information on an exchange with Connolly.

Connolly’s Tahoe was found damaged and missing its front tire near Armen Cleaners on nearby Ashley Street. A witness there told police she and her father-in-law saw a shoeless white man with no coat get out of the driver’s seat.

He responded, “I did it, myself!” when asked what happened, the witness said.

A University of Michigan vehicle ownership card was found in the Tahoe, though the license plate on the vehicle did not match that on the card.

Connolly was verbally abusive toward officers and repeatedly told them, “Do not do this to me,” and “F**k off”, according to the report.

He also resisted police during arrest and at the station, where he repeatedly fell from a bench, police said. He was restrained to a chair after taking “an open hand swing,” striking an officer on the arm, Marshall said in his report.

Connolly was later taken to the University of Michigan emergency room for injuries to his feet and his apparent intoxication, according to the report.

There, he assured police he would remain calm before trying to get out of the hospital bed and swinging at Marshall, according to the report.

He was then handcuffed to the bed, but sat up and grabbed a security officer “by the throat,” according to the report.

Portions of the altercation with police are redacted from the report, but it states hospital security personnel used four-point restraints to subdue Connolly. While in the restraint, Connolly bit a UM emergency technician on the arm, grazing her skin with his teeth, the report said. The technician said the bite was not hard and didn’t break the skin.

Neither the security officer nor the technician reported injuries, and Connolly was eventually sedated.

“Throughout the entire contact with Connolly he refused to give his name, any statement about where he was prior to us finding him and if he had been drinking and driving,” Marshall stated in his report.

Connolly was eventually released to the hospital, said Ann Arbor police Lt. Matthew Lige.

Laboratory results could take several weeks, but police intend to seek misdeamenor charges against Connolly, Lige said.

Connolly is the second football staff member under head coach Jim Harbaugh to be arrested on suspected drunken driving after Jim Minick, Michigan’s then associate athletic director for football, in 2015.

Before Michigan, Connolly spent two seasons, 2014-16, as director of elite performance for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, including one season under Harbaugh. He’s also done consultant work for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns, the NBA’s New York Knicks, the English Premier League and Australian professional rugby teams.

Harbaugh wrote the forward for “Game Changer: The Art of Sports Science,” a book Connolly released in 2017 that pitches the idea evidence-based analysis and athlete-focused training are the path to success in sport, not necessarily big budgets or a heavy emphasis on advanced statistics.

Connolly made $255,000 in 2017, according to UM’s annual salary report.


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