Seven Michigan St football players charged in tunnel melee
By MICHAEL TARM and LARRY LAGE
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Seven Michigan State football players have been charged for their actions during the postgame melee in Michigan Stadium's 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 felonious assault. The charges against the six others 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 are facing charges, which were announced ahead of the teams' final regular-season games. No. 3 Michigan plays rival No. 2 Ohio State on the road Saturday with the Big Ten East Division title at stake. A few hours later, the Spartans close out the season at No. 11 Penn State, needing a win to become bowl eligible.
Scuffles 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 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 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 while shouting across the tunnel at Michigan State players.
Crump in one video appears to swing his helmet at a Michigan player. That could account for the more serious charge, which carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. The state law describes felonious assault as an attack "using knife, iron bar, club, brass knuckles or other dangerous weapon without intending to commit murder or to inflict great bodily harm."
A conviction for a misdemeanor count of assault carries a prison term of up to one year, while misdemeanor assault and battery carries a maximum sentence of 93 days behind bars.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has said one of the players, whom he did not identify, might have had 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 the prosecutor's office provided no detail on the allegations, including who is accused of hitting whom. It added that the office will have no further comment as the case proceeds. It was not clear when the charged players will make initial appearances in court.
Michigan State's athletic director and football coach did not immediately return requests for comment.
Michigan president Santa J. Ono said Wednesday in a statement that the school appreciated "the thoughtful, deliberate approach from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office to this unfortunate incident."
"We also want to express our concern for all the players involved, especially those who were injured," Ono said. "The University of Michigan will continue to cooperate fully with any additional reviews of this matter."
An attorney representing Green, Tom Mars, said after the charges were filed that he was "not at all surprised by the prosecutor's decision."
Asked if his client might sue over the melee, Mars said that after conferring with Green and his father, they agreed with his recommendation "not to take any action about the tunnel incident until the season is over."
"I don't want any of this to be a distraction to 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 Oct. 29 incident, then-Michigan State President Samuel Stanley publicly apologized for the "violent" skirmish. His departure wasn't related to the brawl in Ann Arbor last month.
"I'm extremely saddened by this incident and the unacceptable behavior depicted by members of our football program," Stanley said then in a statement. "On behalf of Michigan State University, my heartfelt apology 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 that said 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 believes strongly in restorative justice practices and the education around harmful actions."
She added that universities "must make our respective environments safe places for competition." She said she was committed to making "meaningful changes" to that end and would report back by the end of the year. Woodruff didn't elaborate on what those changes could be.
Tarm reported from Chicago.
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Updated November 24, 2022