ANN ARBOR, Mich. >> Seven Michigan State football players have been charged for their actions during the hand-to-hand combat after the game in Michigan Stadium tunnel last month, according to a statement Wednesday by the Washtenaw County Attorney’s Office.
The most serious charge is against cornerback Khary Crump, who faces a criminal assault charge. The charges against the six others are administrative offenses. Linebacker Itayvion “Tank” Brown, safety Angelo Grose, cornerback Justin White, defensive end Brandon Wright and defensive end Zion Young each face aggravated assault charges, and linebacker Jacoby Windmon faces assault and assault charges.
No Michigan player will be charged, which was announced ahead of the teams’ final regular-season games. No. 3 Michigan plays No. 2 Ohio State rivals on the road on Saturday, with the Big Ten East division title at stake. A few hours later, the Spartans finish the season ranked 11th in Penn State and need a win to qualify for the Bowl.
On October 29, a scuffle broke out in the Michigan Stadium tunnel after the Wolverines defeated the Spartans 29-7. Social media posts showed Michigan State players poking, punching and kicking Michigan State’s Ja’Den McBurrows in and near a hallway that leads to neither locker room. Brown, Grose and Young are seen on video getting physical with McBurrows.
McBurrows and defenseman Gemon Green walked up the tunnel after the game and walked alongside the Spartans while much of Michigan’s team waved the Spartans off the field after beating their state rivals for the first time in three years.
Green can be seen surrounded by police while yelling at Michigan State players across the tunnel in another post.
Crump appears to swing his helmet at a Michigan player in a video. This could explain the heavier charge, which carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. State law describes felonious assault as an attack “using knives, iron bars, clubs, brass knuckles, or other dangerous weapons without intent to commit murder or cause extensive physical harm.”
A conviction for a misdemeanor assault carries up to a year in prison, while a misdemeanor and assault carry a maximum sentence of 93 days behind bars.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said one of the players, whom he did not identify, may have had a broken nose. He also said Green was hit by a Spartans player and McBurrows was tackled while trying to help.
The prosecutor’s statement did not provide details of the allegations, including who is accused of hitting whom. It added that the office would not comment further as the case progressed. It was not clear when the accused players will first appear in court.
The Michigan State athletic director and soccer coach did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Michigan President Santa J. Ono said in a statement Wednesday that the school appreciates “the thoughtful, deliberate approach of the Washtenaw County Attorney’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 further 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.”
When asked if his client could sue over the hand-to-hand combat, Mars said that after consulting with Green and his father, they agreed with his recommendation “to take no action on the tunnel incident until the season is over.”
“I don’t want any of that to distract from 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 role in the hand-to-hand combat.
After the Oct. 29 incident, then Michigan President Samuel Stanley publicly apologized for the “violent” skirmish. His departure had nothing to do with last month’s Ann Arbor brawl.
“I am deeply saddened by this incident and the unacceptable behavior displayed by members of our football program,” Stanley said in a statement at the time. “On behalf of Michigan State University, I would like to sincerely apologize to the University of Michigan and the injured student-athletes.”
After the indictment was announced Wednesday, Interim Michigan State President Teresa K. Woodruff released a statement saying the school will “continue to review this matter and cooperate on investigative reviews.”
“While we do not condone the actions of some soccer players on October 29, we will support our student athletes in this process,” she said. “MSU firmly believes in restorative justice practices and education about harmful acts.”
She added that universities “need to make our respective environments safe places to compete.” 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 might be.