By LARRY LAGE
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State has suspended four players for their role in brutalizing Michigan players in a stadium tunnel after losing a game.
Spartans coach Mel Tucker announced Sunday night that linebacker Tank Brown, safety Angelo Grose, defensive end Zion Young and cornerback Khary Crump were immediately suspended.
“Michigan State University’s core football values include integrity, discipline, selflessness, tenacity and accountability,” said Tucker, who made the decision after “reviewing electronic evidence disturbing”.
Scuffles broke out in the Michigan Stadium tunnel after the fourth-ranked Wolverines beat the Spartans 29-7 on Saturday night. Social media posts showed Michigan State players pushing, hitting and kicking Michigan’s Ja’Den McBurrows in and near a hallway that doesn’t lead to any of the locker rooms. Brown, Grose and Young are seen on video getting physical with McBurrows.
McBurrows and defensive back Gemon Green came up the tunnel, walking alongside the Spartans, after the game as much of the Michigan squad ran them off the field after beating their state rivals for the first times in three years.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Saturday night that one of the players, whom he did not identify, may have a broken nose. A social media post on Sunday showed a Wolverine, who appears to be green, getting roughed up by the Spartans.
Green, in another position, is surrounded by police as he shouts through the tunnel at Michigan State players.
“Two of our players were assaulted,” Harbaugh said. “I saw on the video alone. 10 to one. It was pretty bad. Need to investigate.”
University of Michigan Deputy Police Chief Melissa Overton said an investigation is underway in partnership with Michigan State Police and the Michigan Athletic Department and Football Program.
“The investigation takes time,” Overton said Sunday.
Tucker said the school is working with law enforcement, Michigan State and Michigan campus leaders and the Big Ten Conference to assess what happened, including identifying other players involved. in altercations and contributing factors.
“The original student-athlete suspensions will remain in place until investigations are complete,” Tucker said. “The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and the Spartan community remains our priority. You have my promise that we are committed to fairness, transparency and accountability, and that we will continue to take appropriate action in this matter.
Earlier in the day, Michigan State President Samuel Stanley publicly apologized for the “violent” skirmish.
“I am extremely saddened by this incident and the unacceptable behavior described 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 could justify the behavior we see on the videos. Rivalries can be intense but should never be violent.
The Big Ten said in a statement, “The conference is currently gathering information, will thoroughly review the facts and take appropriate action.”
As Tucker was leaving the field and entering the tunnel at some point on Saturday night, a fan appeared to touch his head and the coach responded by wiping the fan’s hand.
It was the second consecutive game at Michigan that included 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 allow more orderly use of the tunnel.
A few heated words were exchanged, and the Michigan players said Penn State players threw peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at them as the teams headed to the locker rooms at halftime of a close game which the Wolverines eventually won in a 41-17 rout on 15 October.
Harbaugh said Franklin acted as a “point guard” and claimed the Nittany Lions stopped in the tunnel to prevent his team from accessing his locker room.
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