Jim Harbaugh expects 4 Michigan State players to be charged
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Jim Harbaugh expects the four suspended Michigan State football players involved in manhandling two Michigan team members to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
“I can’t imagine that this won’t result in criminal charges,” the Michigan coach said Monday.
Harbaugh said defensive end Gemon Green was punched by a Spartan in the Michigan Stadium tunnel shortly after the fourth-ranked Wolverines beat their in-state rival Saturday night and teammate team Ja’Den McBurrows was attacked when he tried to help.
McBurrows is seen in a video shared on social media being pushed, punched and kicked by several Michigan State players, who pulled him out of the tunnel and into a hallway that leads to nowhere of the dressing rooms
Harbaugh said both players have injuries, adding that he did not know if Green, a starting cornerback for the third straight season, would be cleared to play Saturday night at Rutgers.
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker announced Sunday night that linebacker Tank Brown, safety Angelo Grose, defensive end Zion Young and cornerback Khary Crump were suspended with immediate effect.
Brown, Grose and Young are seen in the video getting physical with McBurrows.
“The core values of Michigan State University football include integrity, discipline, selflessness, toughness and accountability,” said Tucker, who made the decision after “reviewing disturbing electronic evidence.”
McBurrows and Green walked up the tunnel alongside the Spartans after the game as much of the Michigan team cheered on their rivals off the field and other Wolverines were celebrating near the stadium’s student section.
“They were walking down the tunnel,” Harbaugh said when asked why Green and McBurrows weren’t with the rest of their teammates.
University of Michigan Deputy Police Chief Melissa Overton said Saturday night that an investigation has begun in collaboration with Michigan State Police, the Michigan athletic department and the Wolverines football program.
“The investigation takes some time,” Overton said Sunday.
Tucker said the school is working with law enforcement, Michigan State and Michigan campus leadership and the Big Ten Conference to assess what happened, including identifying others players who were involved in the altercations and the contributing factors.
“The initial student-athlete suspensions will stand until the investigations are complete,” said Tucker, whose head was tapped in the tunnel by a fan in the stands Saturday night. The coach responded by pushing the fan’s hand away.
Michigan State President Samuel Stanley apologized for the “violent” skirmish.
“I am deeply saddened by this incident and the unacceptable behavior represented by members of our football program,” Stanley said in a statement. “On behalf of Michigan State University, my sincere apologies to the University of Michigan and the student-athletes who were injured.
“There is no provocation that can justify the behavior we are seeing in the videos. Rivalries can be intense, but they never have to be violent.”
Harbaugh said Monday that an apology is not enough.
The Big Ten said Sunday it is gathering information and plans to take appropriate action.
It was the second straight game at Michigan that featured an altercation in the long, narrow tunnel that runs from the locker room to the field.
Earlier this month, Penn State coach James Franklin said a policy change was needed to provide a more orderly use of the tunnel.
Some heated words were exchanged, and Michigan players said Penn State players threw peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at them as the teams headed to the locker room at halftime of a close game that the Wolverines won finally 41-17 on October 15.
Harbaugh said Franklin acted as a “capitalist” and claimed the Nittany Lions stopped in the tunnel to prevent his team from entering his locker room.
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