NCAA Football

Michigan to expand stadium tunnel area after player altercations

Michigan to expand stadium tunnel area after player altercations

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Stadium’s lonely tunnel — the scene of scuffles between players as they enter and exit the field — will be a little wider next season.

The school confirmed Monday that it will remove the portable portion of the seats from the front of the tunnel to give players, coaches and staff more room to enter and exit the football field.

In the past, fans have been close enough to touch coaches and players, as one spectator did to Michigan State’s Mel Tucker last season long before a postgame altercation between Spartans and Wolverines players led to suspensions and criminal charges.

A total of 45 portable seats will be lost, and the stadium is expected to add enough standing-room-only tickets to keep its capacity at 107,601.

“This decision was made after careful consideration of the health and well-being of everyone who uses the tunnel to get to and from the field,” Michigan State spokesman Curt Svoboda said.

The Big Ten fined Michigan State $100,000 for its role in the stadium tunnel altercations and reprimanded Michigan for failing to “provide adequate protection for personnel of both the home and away teams entering and exiting the game arenas,” according to conference policy.

Penn State coach James Franklin said in October that there should be a policy against allowing teams to be in the locker room at the same time, and suggested some sort of buffer was needed to separate them.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh bristled, saying Franklin acted as an “instigator” when plenty of heated words were exchanged and Wolverines players reportedly said Nittany Lions players threw peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at them.

During the final two games of the season, Michigan did keep players and coaches from Nebraska and Illinois apart from the Wolverines in the tunnel.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents last year approved the athletic department’s request to name the tunnel in honor of former coach Lloyd Carrwho led the program to its last national championship in 1997.

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