Michigan State players seen on video beating up college football opponent in tunnel

A tense rivalry came to blows in Michigan Saturday night after players from the losing team surrounded and assaulted one of the victors in the tunnel as they headed toward the locker rooms.

The Michigan Wolverines managed to remain undefeated against the visiting Michigan State Spartans Saturday in Ann Arbor, MI, but the 29-7 victory was overshadowed when a “scuffle” ended with a possible broken nose for one player and a law enforcement investigation.

The Detroit News’ Matt Charboneau shared “footage of the scuffling” on Twitter late Saturday night where Spartans can be seen swarming around a player, later identified as defensive back Ja’Den McBurrows, who was low to or on the ground before he was slammed up against a door, soon winding up on the ground.

When asked about the apparent assault during his postgame interview, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh referred to the “unfortunate” event as “pretty open and shut” and said, “Two of our players were assaulted. We…saw the one video, ten on one, it’s…pretty bad. I’m gonna let our athletic director Warde Manuel address it with the authorities.”

The unidentified Wolverine, the coach said, may have suffered a broken nose.

Manuel, who was seated beside Harbaugh during the interview explained in no uncertain terms, “What happened after the game was completely unacceptable. I’ve talked to the commissioner. He is looking into it. We have, the police are also looking into it because they’ve seen the video and so they’re addressing it. We will leave it in their hands, but this is not how we should interact after the game.”

The athletic director went on to add, “This is not the way another team should grab a player and do what they did. It’s completely and utterly unacceptable. We will let the Big Ten and law enforcement handle it, but this is not what a rivalry should be about. It should not be how it is remembered.”

Spartans coach Mel Tucker initially reacted by saying, “I know it was a heated game. We were trying to get our guys in the locker room. We’ll have to see what happened.” However, he went on to tweet Sunday morning, “As Spartans our program has a responsibility to uphold the highest level of sportsmanship. While emotions were very high at the conclusion of our rivalry game at Michigan Stadium, there is no excuse for behavior that puts our team or our opponents at risk.”

Tucker himself was witnessed being heated as well as he appeared to swipe at a fan reaching toward him as the team entered the tunnel.

Moments before Tucker’s post, the universities official Twitter account also posted a statement from President Samuel L. Stanley who offered his apologies to the inured, “I’m extremely saddened by this incident and the unacceptable behavior depicted by members of our football program.”

“On behalf of Michigan State University, my heartfelt apology to the University of Michigan and the student athletes who were injured,” Stanley said. “There is no provocation that could justify the behavior we are seeing on the videos. Rivalries can be intense but should never be violent. Coach Tucker will be holding the players involved responsible, and our football team and university will be cooperating with all related investigations by law enforcement and the Big Ten Conference.”

University of Michigan President Santa J. Ono explained in his own statement that he had spoken with Stanley and that “Both institutions are committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure that such a situation does not occur again in the future.”

As it happened, this was the second consecutive home game for the Wolverines where an altercation occurred in the tunnel that leads from the field to the locker rooms. Michigan had defeated Penn State 41-17 on Oct. 15 and members of the visiting team were said to have thrown peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the half when the game had remained close.


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Kevin Haggerty


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