Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker on Sunday night suspended four players immediately for their roles in a postgame altercation with two Michigan players a day earlier.
Tucker announced the immediate suspensions of starting defensive back Angelo Grose, starting defensive end Zion Young, backup defensive end Itayvion “Tank” Brown and backup defensive back Khary Crump.
The Spartans fought with U-M players Ja’Den McBurrows and Gemon Green as MSU returned to its locker room following Saturday’s 29-7 loss to the Wolverines.
Tucker pointed to MSU’s “football core values” including “integrity, discipline, unselfishness, toughness, and accountability” in announcing the suspensions, calling videos of the incidents “disturbing electronic evidence.”
“We are currently working with law enforcement, Michigan State and Michigan campus leadership, and the Big Ten Conference to further evaluate the events in Ann Arbor, including but not limited to, additional student-athlete participation in the altercations and contributing factors,” Tucker said in his statement. “The initial student-athlete suspensions will remain in place until the investigations are completed.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, personnel, and the Spartan community remain our number one priority. You have my promise that we are committed to fairness, transparency, and accountability, and that we will continue to take appropriate action in this matter. Our core values and the responsibility that comes with wearing a State green and white jersey must never be compromised.”
A video of an incident on the south (right) wall of the tunnel emerged on social media Sunday afternoon, which appeared to happen just before the group melee three reporters witnessed on the north (left) wall. In the new video, it appeared that Crump — a 6-foot, 180-pound sophomore who transferred to MSU from Arizona before the 2021 season — used his helmet to swing at Green.
Video shot by reporters Saturday night showed Crump being restrained by two teammates as a large group of Spartans dragged McBurrows along the opposite wall. That scrum turned into a melee, with reporters witnessing and capturing video of Young, Brown, Grose and others throwing punches at McBurrows, with Young also attempting to kick the U-M player after he was shoved to the ground.
Grose, a 5-10, 185-pound junior, has started all eight games this season for MSU (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) at safety or nickel back. He made four tackles against the Wolverines on Saturday. Brown, a 6-4, 247-pound sophomore who transferred to MSU from Minnesota before the 2021 season, had one tackle in the game. Young, a 6-6, 260-pound freshman who started his second straight game Saturday, had seven tackles.
MSU athletic director Alan Haller also issued a statement Sunday night condemning the players’ actions.
“Michigan State University, our athletics department and football program represent the highest ethical, academics and athletics standards,” Haller said. “Based on the alarming evidence that Coach Mel Tucker and I have been provided involving a small number of our football student-athletes and University of Michigan student-athletes at Michigan Stadium, we are in alignment that it is necessary to take preliminary action and suspend four football student-athletes. The behavior we reviewed was both uncharacteristic of our football program and unacceptable.
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“On behalf of our university and athletics department, I have been in consistent contact with University of Michigan Athletics Director Warde Manuel and Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren in addition to members of our Spartan family to offer our apologies and to ensure our collaboration with law enforcement as they conduct investigations into this matter.”
Neither Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh nor Manuel on Saturday revealed the Wolverines who were involved in the altercations, though Harbaugh said it was two players — one of whom, he claimed, suffered a nasal injury.
It is unclear if the Big Ten plans to issue further punishment for the Spartans or Wolverines. League commissioner Kevin Warren, who was at the game, issued a statement early Sunday morning saying, “The conference is currently gathering information, will thoroughly review the fact, and will take appropriate action.”
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