ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Seven Michigan State football players have been charged for their actions during the postgame melee in the Michigan Stadium tunnel last month, according to a statement Wednesday from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office.
The most serious charge is against cornerback Khary Crump, who faces one count of aggravated assault. The charges against the other six are misdemeanors. Linebacker Itayvion “Tank” Brown, safety Angelo Grose, cornerback Justin White, defensive end Brandon Wright and defensive end Zion Young are each charged with one count of aggravated assault, and linebacker Jacoby Windmon faces one count of assault and battery.
No Michigan players face charges, which were announced ahead of the teams’ final games of the regular season. No. 3 Michigan plays rival No. 2 Ohio State on the road Saturday with the Big Ten East Division title on the line. A few hours later, the Spartans end their season at No. 11 Penn State, needing a win to become bowl eligible.
A brawl broke out in the Michigan Stadium tunnel on Oct. 29 after the Wolverines beat the Spartans 29-7. Social media posts showed Michigan State players pushing, punching and kicking Michigan’s Ja’Den McBurrows in and near a hallway that does not lead to either locker room. Brown, Grose and Young are seen on video getting physical with McBurrows.
McBurrows and defensive back Gemon Green walked up the tunnel and joined the Spartans after the game as much of Michigan’s team waved the Spartans off the field after beating their in-state rivals for the first time in three years.
Green, in another post, is seen surrounded by police as he yells across the tunnel at Michigan State players.
Crump in a video appears to swing his helmet at a Michigan player. That may explain the more serious charge, which carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison. State law describes aggravated assault as an attack “using a knife, iron bar, club, knuckles or other dangerous weapon without intent to commit murder or to inflict great bodily harm.”
A conviction for assault carries a prison sentence of up to one year, while assault and battery carry a maximum sentence of 93 days behind bars.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has said one of the players, who he did not identify, may have suffered a broken nose. He also said Green was punched by a Spartans player and McBurrows was attacked when he tried to help.
The statement from prosecutors did not provide any details about the charges, including who is accused of hitting whom. It added that the office will have no further comment as the case continues. It was not clear when the accused players will appear in court.
Michigan State’s athletic director and football coach did not immediately return requests for comment.
Michigan President Santa J. Ono said in a statement Wednesday that the school appreciated “the thoughtful, deliberate approach by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office to this unfortunate incident.”
“We also want to express our concern for all players involved, especially those who were injured,” Ono said. “The University of Michigan will continue to cooperate fully with any further review of this matter.”
An attorney representing Green, Tom Mars, said after the charges were filed that he was “not surprised by the prosecutor’s decision.”
Asked if his client could face a lawsuit over the melee, Mars said that after conferring with Green and his father, they agreed with his recommendation “not to take action on the tunnel incident until the season is over.”
“I don’t want any of this to be a distraction for Michigan football, and neither does Gemon,” Mars said.
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker suspended eight players – including Malcolm Jones, who was not charged – for their roles in the melee.
After the incident on 29 October, then state president Samuel Stanley publicly apologized for the “violent” skirmish. His resignation was not related to the fight in Ann Arbor last month.
“I am 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 apologies to the University of Michigan and the student-athletes who were injured.”
After charges were announced Wednesday, Michigan State Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff released a statement saying the school would “continue to evaluate this matter and cooperate with any investigative reviews.”
“While we do not condone the actions taken by some football players on Oct. 29, we will support our student-athletes through this process,” she said. “MSU strongly believes in restorative justice practices and education around harmful acts.”
She added that universities “must make our respective communities safe places for competition.” She said she was committed to making “meaningful changes” to this end and would report back by the end of the year. Woodruff did not elaborate on what those changes might be.
Tarm reported from Chicago.
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