‘Apology’ not enough: Harbaugh expects criminal charges for tunnel incident

Shortly after Michigan’s 29-7 victory over Michigan State, social media videos surfaced showing a number of MSU players pushing and shoving a Michigan player, identified as Ja’Den McBurrows. The video shows McBurrows was punched and kicked while on the ground.

A separate video appears to show a helmet was swung at Michigan defensive back Gemon Green. On Sunday night, MSU indefinitely suspended four players identified in the incident: Tank Brown, Khary Crump, Angelo Grose and Zion Young.

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‘Right now we have an ongoing police investigation, what happened in the tunnel was egregious, sickening to watch,’ Harbaugh said Monday afternoon. ‘The videos, the ones that are on social media right now and also the ABC tunnel cam is in a higher elevation that shows much more of what took place.

‘There needs to be accountability, there needs to be a full, thorough, timely investigation. I can’t imagine that this will not result in criminal charges, the videos are bad. It’s clear what transpired, it seems very open and shut as they say.’

Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller released a statement through the department’s Twitter account Sunday evening, saying, in part, ‘our athletic department and football program represent the highest ethical, academics and athletics standards … 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 collaboration with law enforcement as they conduct investigations into this matter.’

Harbaugh said Monday that McBurrows and Green were headed up the tunnel to the locker room then it was ‘exactly what the video shows from there.’

He was asked if words were exchanged or what prompted multiple MSU players to fight one Michigan player at a time, but a U-M spokesman stepped in and said, ‘you guys have to understand there are certain things we have to have the legal process play out, so he won’t be able to comment on a lot of things.’

Harbaugh said as of Monday afternoon, MSU coach Mel Tucker had not reached out since the incident. When asked if the coach sets the tone for the team, Harbaugh explained he won’t make a comment on that or ‘put off on any other excuse or place’ other than the actions of ‘the individuals involved.’

‘I come at this from the perspective of being a parent of these young men, who are entrusted to me by their families as a program and we have a responsibility to each player to treat them like our own, and I take that responsibility very seriously,’ he said. ‘An apology will not get the job done in this instance, there should be serious consequences for the many individuals who are culpable.

‘On behalf of the 2022 Michigan football team, our players, our coaches, our staff, our university, this has been a very traumatic experience, especially for Ja’Den and Gemon. And we’re going to support them and their families in every possible way.’

Contact Tony Garcia at apgarcia@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @realtonygarcia.

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