Jim Harbaugh expects ‘criminal charges’ for Michigan State players after brawl

Opinion

Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that he expects “criminal charges” to emerge from an investigation into violence that began in the stadium tunnel Saturday after the Wolverines beat visiting Michigan State.

Noting an “ongoing police investigation,” Harbaugh said: “What happened in the tunnel was horrific. It’s sickening to watch the videos, the ones that are on social media right now.”

Video of the incident from different angles showed that several Spartans players appeared to be attacking Michigan’s Ja’Den McBurrows and Gemon Green. On Sunday, Michigan State Coach Mel Tucker announced the indefinite suspension of four players: redshirt freshman linebacker Itayvion “Tank” Brown, redshirt freshman linebacker Khary Crump, junior safety Angelo Grose and freshman defensive end Zion Young.

“We’re not here to make any excuses for their behavior on Saturday,” Tucker said at a news conference Monday. “They are inappropriate.”

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

“I can’t imagine this won’t lead to criminal charges,” he continued. “The videos are bad, and it’s clear what happened. This is pretty open and shut. As they say, watch the tape.”

In a video shared shortly after the game ended, Brown, Grose and Young could be seen pushing and appearing to punch and kick McBurrows. Footage from an ABC/ESPN tunnel-mounted camera that emerged Monday appeared to show Green getting hit by a Spartans helmet, with Crump involved in the fracas. In that footage, another Michigan State player who was not immediately suspended, linebacker/defensive end Jacoby Windmon, was seen putting on his helmet and catching Green.

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Harbaugh said the ABC/ESPN camera setup at a “higher elevation” allowed him to show “a lot more of what happened” during the incident.

“I’m coming at this from a perspective of being a parent,” Harbaugh said. “These families depend on me with their families for our program, and it’s our responsibility to treat each player as our own, and I take that responsibility very seriously. Excuses will not get the job done in this case. There should be serious consequences for the many guilty parties.”

In a statement issued late Sunday night by the Spartans athletic department, Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said he was “deeply saddened by this incident and the misconduct – fit that members of our football program demonstrate. “

“On behalf of Michigan State University, I offer my sincere apologies to the University of Michigan and the student-athletes who were injured,” Stanley continued. verify videos. Competitions can be intense but they shouldn’t be violent.”

Michigan State Athletic Director Alan Haller said in a joint statement that the suspension of the four players was “necessary” due to the “alarming evidence” that they were involved.

Tucker offered another apology at a news conference Monday.

“We are very sorry to both universities, the conference, our fans, alumni, supporters and of course our student-athletes, past and present,” the coach said. , who is in his third season with the Spartans.

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“The incidents involving a small group of our players are not representative of our culture,” Tucker said.

Citing police and university/Big Ten investigations, Tucker declined to comment on reporters’ questions about Harbaugh’s mention of possible criminal charges and whether he was “confused” that other Spartans players did more to stop the attacks.

In response to reporters at his press conference, Harbaugh did not elaborate on why McBurrows, a sophomore defensive back, and Green, a graduate defensive back, were walking through the ​tunnel toward the locker rooms at the same time as the Michigan State players. After games at Ann Arbor Stadium in Michigan, the visiting team and their staff are the first to leave the field and enter the tunnel, followed by the Wolverines organization.

At halftime of Michigan’s previous home game, a win over Penn State’s players, the Wolverines and Nittany Lions had a heated exchange. Penn State Coach James Franklin later called the shared use of a tunnel a “problem,” and Harbaugh later accused Franklin of being the “instigator” of the confrontation. Franklin called a “buffer” a couple of minutes before Michigan players followed the visiting team into the tunnel and predicted at the time that the ill will shown when his team visited Michigan Stadium “wasn’t the one about end” of the good.

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On Monday, Harbaugh downplayed the tunnel situation as a problem and reiterated that “the actions of these guys” from Michigan State were in question. He said he wasn’t sure if Green, who made 21 starts for Michigan in his career, would be available for the Wolverines’ next 8-0 game, Saturday at Rutgers.

“This has been a very difficult experience for everyone, especially for Ja’Den and Gemon,” said Harbaugh, who was in his eighth season at Michigan as coach.

A lawyer for Green, Tom Mars, told the Associated Press that those involved in attacking his client “will feel the full wrath of the law.” “

“Bad consequences in this case will deter others who may think they can get away with brutally hitting an opposing player and only get a slap on the wrist, ” said Mars. “… When college football players brutally attack an opposing team member with their helmets, resulting in the player suffering a concussion and other injuries, there will be no excuse exist. There must be serious consequences for this type of misconduct.”



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