Jim Harbaugh expects 4 Michigan State players to face charges
ANN ARBOR, MI. — Jim Harbaugh expects the four suspended Michigan State football players involved in roughing two Michigan team members to be punished to the full extent of the law.
“I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t lead to criminal charges,” the Michigan coach said Monday.
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said later Monday that it would be irresponsible to respond to Harbaugh’s call for criminal charges in connection with the ongoing investigation.
“We’re not here to make excuses for Saturday’s behavior,” Tucker said. “They are unacceptable.”
Harbaugh said quarterback Jamon Green was punched in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium to spark a melee shortly after the fourth-ranked Wolverines beat their in-state rivals Saturday night, and teammate Ja ‘Dan McBarrows was attacked when he tried to help.
In a video circulating on social media, McBurroughs can be seen being pushed, punched and kicked by several Michigan State players, who drag him out of the tunnel and into a hallway that does not lead to any of the locker rooms.
Harbaugh said both players are out with injuries and added he didn’t know if Green, the starting quarterback for the third straight season, would be cleared to play Saturday night at Rutgers.
“It was a very traumatic experience for everybody, especially Ja’Den and Gemon,” Harbaugh said.
Attorney Tom Mars, who represents Green, said his client deserves compensation for his injuries, which include a concussion.
“The serious consequences in this case deter anyone who might think they can get away with brutally beating an opposing player and only get a slap on the wrist,” Mars told the Associated Press. “I have news for the MSU players who did this to Gemon. They will feel the full wrath of the law.”
Tucker announced Sunday night that linebacker Tank Brown, linebacker Angela Grose, linebacker Zion Young and cornerback Harry Crump have been suspended with immediate effect. Tucker said the decision was made after “reviewing troubling electronic evidence.”
The video shows Brown, Grose and Young making out with McBarrows. In a video captured by ESPN, Crump hits Green in the tunnel as the school’s fight song is played nearby by the Michigan Band.
“Incidents involving a small group of our players do not represent our culture,” Tucker said.
Tucker came very close to the consequences, standing in the tunnel, when Green was surrounded by police and taken to the locker room while he yelled at the Michigan State players.
McBarrows and Green walked up the tunnel with the Spartans after the game, while many of the Michigan players waved to their opponents from the field and other Wolverines celebrated near the student section of the stadium.
“Those two players did the same thing in the Penn State game, did the same thing in previous games,” Harbaugh said when asked why Green and McBarrows weren’t with the rest of their teammates. “They walk down the tunnel with the other players.”
University of Michigan Deputy Police Chief Melissa Overton said the investigation began Saturday night in cooperation with Michigan State Police, the Michigan State Athletic Department and the Wolverines football program.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Overton said Monday.
Tucker said the school is working with law enforcement, Michigan State and Michigan campus administration and the Big Ten Conference to assess what happened, including identifying other players involved in the altercation and contributing factors.
“The suspension will allow the players to receive academic support and medical services, but they will not be able to attend organized team activities,” said Tucker, who said the suspensions will remain in effect until the investigation is completed.
A fan in the stands before the game touched Tucker’s head in the tunnel, and the coach responded by pushing the fan’s hand away. The fan was identified and ejected from the stadium, athletics department spokesman Kurt Svoboda said.
Michigan State President Samuel Stanley apologized for the “violent” fight.
“On behalf of Michigan State University, I offer my sincere apologies to the University of Michigan and the student-athletes who were injured,” Stanley said in a statement.
Harbaugh said Monday that an apology wasn’t enough, and Green’s attorney agreed.
“When college football players violently attack a member of the opposing team with their helmets, resulting in a concussion and other injuries, an apology will not be enough,” Mars said. “There should be serious consequences for this type of misconduct.”
The Big Ten said Sunday it is gathering information and plans to take appropriate action.
It was the second game in a row and the third of seven games at Michigan Stadium that involved an altercation in the long, narrow tunnel that runs down a steep slope from the field to the locker room.
Earlier this month, Penn State coach James Franklin said the policy needed to be changed to allow for more orderly use of the tunnel after words were exchanged at halftime. Last year, there was a very tense showdown in the halftime tunnel between the Ohio State and Michigan players.
Harbaugh said Franklin acted as the “instigator” and claimed the Nittany Lions stopped in the tunnel to prevent his team from gaining access to their locker room.
Asked if Tucker set the tone for his team’s behavior, Harbaugh declined to comment.