ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan State has suspended four players for their role in roughing up Michigan players in a stadium tunnel after losing the game.
Spartans coach Mel Tucker announced Sunday night that linebacker Tank Brown, safety Angelo Grose, defensive end Zion Young and cornerback Khary Crump were suspended immediately.
“Michigan State University football core values include integrity, discipline, unselfishness, toughness and accountability," said Tucker, who made the decision after “reviewing the disturbing electronic evidence."
Scuffles broke out in the Michigan Stadium tunnel after fourth-ranked Wolverines beat the Spartans 29-7 Saturday night. Social media posts showed Michigan State players pushing, punching and kicking Michigan's Ja'Den McBurrows in and near a hallway that doesn't lead to either locker room. Brown, Grose and Young are seen on video getting physical with McBurrows.
McBurrows and defensive back Gemon Green went up the tunnel, walking alongside the Spartans, after the game while much of Michigan’s team was waving them off the field after beating their in-state rivals for the first time in three years.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Saturday night that one of the players, who he did not identify, might have a broken nose. A social media post on Sunday showed a Wolverine, who appears to be Green, getting roughed up by Spartans.
Green, in another post, is surrounded by police while shouting across the tunnel at Michigan State players.
“Two of our players were assaulted,” Harbaugh said. “I saw on the one video. 10 on one. It was pretty bad. It needs to be investigated.”
University of Michigan Deputy Police Chief Melissa Overton said an investigation is underway in partnership with Michigan State police, and Michigan’s athletic department and 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 evaluate what happened, including identifying other players who were involved in the altercations and contributing factors.
“The initial student-athlete suspensions will remain in place until the investigations are completed," Tucker said. “The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, personnel, and the Spartan community remain 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’m extremely saddened by this incident and the unacceptable behavior depicted by members of our football program,” Stanley said in a statement. “On behalf of Michigan State University, my heartfelt apology to the University of Michigan and the student athletes who were injured.
“There is no provocation that could justify the behavior we are seeing 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 will take appropriate action.”
As Tucker walked off the field and entered the tunnel at some point Saturday night, a fan appeared to touch his head and the coach responded by swiping the fan's hand away.
It was the second straight game at Michigan that included an altercation in the long, narrow tunnel that goes from the locker rooms 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 the Wolverines ultimately won in a 41-17 rout on Oct. 15.
Harbaugh said Franklin acted as a “ringleader” and claimed the Nittany Lions stopped in the tunnel to prevent his team from accessing its locker room.
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