Jim Harbaugh expects MSU players to face ‘criminal charges’ after brawl


Michigan State coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday he expects “criminal charges” to arise from an investigation into Saturday’s violence in the stadium tunnel after his Wolverines beat visiting Michigan State.

Noting the “ongoing police investigation,” Harbaugh said: “What happened in the tunnel is appalling. It’s disgusting to watch the videos, the ones on social media right now.”

Video of the incident, taken from a different angle, shows what appears to be several Spartans attacking Jaden McBurrows and Jamon Green of Michigan. On Sunday, Michigan State coach Mel Tucker announced the indefinite suspension of four players: redshirt sophomore linebacker Itayvion “Tank” Brown, redshirt sophomore cornerback Khay Crump, junior safety Angelo Grose and freshman defense End Zion Young.

“We’re not here to make any excuses for what we did on Saturday,” Tucker said at a news conference on Monday. “They are unacceptable.”

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“There needs to be accountability,” Harbaugh told reporters earlier in the day. “A full, thorough and timely investigation is required.

“I can’t imagine this would not lead to criminal charges,” he continued. “The videos are bad, it’s very clear what’s going on. It’s very open and closed. If they say, watch the tape.”

In a video shared shortly after the game, Brown, Gross and Young can be seen shoving and appearing to punch and kick at McBross. Footage from an ABC/ESPN camera installed in the tunnel that emerged Monday appeared to show Green being hit by a Spartan helmet, with Crump taking part in the brawl. In that video, another Michigan State player who wasn’t immediately suspended, linebacker/defensive end Jacoby Windmon, can be seen donning a helmet and grabbing Green.

Placing the ABC/ESPN cameras at “higher altitudes” allowed them to show “more of what happened” during the event, Harbaugh said.

“I came from the perspective of being a parent,” Harbaugh said. “These young people have been entrusted to me by their families to be part of our programme and we have a responsibility to treat each player like ourselves and I take that responsibility very seriously. In this case, an apology will not get the job done. It should be Many guilty people have serious consequences.”

In a statement Sunday night from the Spartan Athletic Department, Michigan Governor Samuel L. Stanley Jr. issued a statement. Said he was “deeply saddened by this incident and the unacceptable behaviour described by members of our football programme.”

“On behalf of Michigan State, I extend my sincere apologies to the University of Michigan and to the injured student-athlete,” Stanley continued. “There is no provocation to justify what we see in the video. The competition may be fierce, but it should never be violent.”

Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller said in a simultaneous statement that the suspension of the four players was “necessary” given the “shocking evidence” of their involvement.

Tucker apologized again at a news conference on Monday.

“We are deeply sorry to both colleges, the conference, our fans, alumni, supporters, and of course all of our student-athletes, past and present,” said the coach, who is in the third spot for the Spartans. season.

“An incident involving a small group of our players is not representative of our culture,” Tucker added.

Citing police and university/Ten investigations, Tucker declined to comment on reporters’ questions about Harbaugh’s mention of possible criminal charges, and whether he was “disturbed” by other Spartans not doing more to stop the attack.

Responding to reporters at his news conference, Harbaugh did not elaborate on why sophomore defensive back Mike Burrows and graduate defensive back Green walked through the tunnel to the locker room at the same time as the Michigan State players. After the game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, the visiting team and its staff were first off the field and into the tunnel, followed by the Wolverines contingent.

At halftime of Michigan’s last home game, the players who won over Penn State, the Wolverines and the Nittany Lions clashed fiercely. Penn State coach James Franklin then described the shared use of a tunnel as “a problem” before Harbaugh accused Franklin of being “the ringleader” of the confrontation. Franklin called for a “buffer” for a minute or two before Michigan players followed the visiting team into the tunnel, predicting at the time that the malicious “won’t be the last” kid during his team’s visit to Michigan Stadium.

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On Monday, Harbaugh played down the problems with the tunnel setup and reiterated that there was a problem with “the behavior of these people” at MSU. He added that he’s not sure if Green, who has started 21 times for Michigan in his career, will be available for Saturday’s 8-0 Wolverines game at Rutgers.

“It was a very traumatic experience for everyone, especially for Jaden and Jaymon,” said Harbaugh, who was a Michigan State standout in his eighth season as coach.

Green’s attorney, Tom Mars, told The Associated Press that those involved in the attack on his client will “feel the full wrath of the law.”

“In this case, serious consequences would deter others, who may think they can get away with brutally beating opposing players, only to get a slap in the face,” Mars said. “…When college football players brutally attack members of opposing teams with helmets, resulting in concussions and other injuries to players, an apology is not enough. There must be serious consequences for such misconduct.”

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