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Jim Harbaugh expects 4 Michigan State players to be charged

Jim Harbaugh expects 4 Michigan State players to be charged

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Jim Harbaugh expects the four suspended Michigan State football players to be involved in the attack on two members Michigan’s team be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

“I can’t imagine that this won’t result in criminal charges,” the Michigan coach said Monday.

Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said later Monday that it would be irresponsible to respond to Harbaugh’s call for criminal charges because of the ongoing investigation.

“We’re not here to make excuses for the behavior on Saturday,” Tucker said. “They are unacceptable.”

Harbaugh said defensive back Gemon Green was hit by a Spartans player in the Michigan Stadium tunnel to spark the melee shortly afterward fourth-place Wolverines beat their in-state rivals Saturday night, and that teammate Ja’Den McBurrows was attacked when he tried to help.

McBurrows can be seen in a video shared on social media being pushed, punched and kicked by multiple Michigan State players, who pulled him out of the tunnel and into the corridor it doesn’t lead to any locker rooms.

Harbaugh said both players were injured, adding that he did not know if Green, the starting cornerback for the third straight season, would be cleared to play Saturday night at Rutgers.

“This was a very traumatic experience for everybody, especially Ja’Den and Gemon,” Harbaugh said.

Attorney Tom Mars, who is representing Green, said his client deserves compensation for injuries that include a concussion.

“The severe consequences in this case will deter others who might think they can get away with brutally beating an opposing player and only get a slap on the wrist,” Mars told The Associated Press. “I have news for the MSU players who did this to Gemon. They will feel the full wrath of the law.”

Tucker announced Sunday night that linebacker Tank Brown, safety Angelo Grose, defensive end Zion Young and cornerback Khary Crump have been suspended effective immediately. Tucker said the decision was made after “reviewing disturbing electronic evidence.”

Brown, Grose and Young are seen in the video getting physical with McBurrows. With the Michigan Marching Band playing the school fight song nearby, Crump is seen punching Green in the tunnel on video taken by ESPN.

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

Tucker was very close to the consequences, standing in the tunnel while Green was surrounded by police and walked to the locker room while yelling at the Michigan State players.

McBurrows and Green walked down the tunnel with the Spartans after the game as many Michigan players waved their rivals off the field and other Wolverines celebrated near the stadium’s student section.

“These two players did the same thing in the Penn State game, they did the same thing in previous games,” Harbaugh said when asked why Green and McBurrows weren’t with the rest of their teammates. “They go up the tunnel with the other players.”

University of Michigan Police Deputy Chief Melissa Overton said the investigation began Saturday night in partnership with Michigan State Police, the Michigan athletic department and the Wolverines football program.

“The investigation is ongoing,” Overton said Monday.

Tucker said the school is working with police, Michigan State and Michigan campus leadership, and the Big Ten Conference to evaluate what happened, including identifying other players involved in the altercations and contributing factors.

“The suspensions will allow the players to receive academic support and medical services, but they will not be able to attend any organized team activities,” said Tucker, who said the suspensions will remain in effect until the investigation is complete.

Tucker’s head was touched in the tunnel by a fan in the stands Saturday night, and the coach responded by pushing the fan’s hand away.

Michigan State President Samuel Stanley apologized for the “violent” fight.

“On behalf of Michigan State University, my sincere apologies to the University of Michigan and the student-athletes who were injured,” Stanley said in a statement.

Harbaugh said Monday that the apology wasn’t enough, and Green’s attorney agreed.

“When college football players brutally attack a member of the opposing team with their helmets, resulting in a player suffering a concussion and other injuries, an apology will not be enough,” Mars said. “There must be severe consequences for this type of misconduct.”

The Big Ten said Sunday it is gathering information and plans to take appropriate action.

It was the second straight game and the third in seven games at Michigan Stadium that involved an altercation in the long, narrow tunnel that climbs steeply from the field to the locker rooms.

Earlier this month, Penn State coach James Franklin said a policy change was needed to ensure more orderly use of the tunnel after words were exchanged at halftime. Last year, Players from Ohio State and Michigan had a heated confrontation in the tunnel at halftime.

Harbaugh said Franklin acted as a “ringleader” and claimed the Nittany Lions stopped in the tunnel to prevent his team from accessing his locker room.

When asked if Tucker set the tone for his team’s behavior, Harbaugh declined to comment.

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Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/larrylage

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