The Big Ten fined Michigan State $10,000 for violating the conference’s sportsmanship policy during an altercation between Spartan players and player from Michigan‘s prior to this past Saturday’s game.
A brief scuffle occurred between the teams roughly two hours before kickoff when Michigan State enter Spartan Stadium for its weekly ritual of walking with linked arms from one end zone to the other. The league also issued public reprimands to Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Michigan linebacker Devin Bush for their behavior or reaction to the incident.
“We are fortunate the series of events that occurred prior to the Michigan-Michigan State game did not escalate into a more serious matter,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement announcing the fine and reprimands. “While traditions hold great importance on our campuses, traditions do not supersede the values of good sportsmanship or the requirement for player safety. We expect more from our coaches, students and administrators and will continue to work with our institutions to prioritize good sportsmanship moving forward.”
Harbaugh accused Michigan State of “bush league” tactics during what he deemed their “stormtrooper march” Saturday morning. Harbaugh said his staff informed him that Spartan players clotheslined one of the handful of Michigan players who was on the field stretching during the walk and ripped the headphones from the neck of another. Harbaugh also accused Dantonio of standing behind the altercation and smiling as it occurred.
Dantonio called Harbaugh’s claims “B.S.” after Saturday’s game and has since declined to answer questions about what occurred on the field. A Michigan State spokesman said earlier this week that Michigan players were on the field earlier than they were supposed to be during the warm-up period and they did not leave when asked by Michigan State staffers prior to the team’s walk. Michigan says it was given no heads up that the walk was beginning.
After the altercation, Bush jogged to the Michigan State logo in the middle of the field and tried to kick divots into field for an extended period of time. Bush said he was acting on “pure emotion” at the time. The Big Ten reprimanded him for his conduct.
The league reprimanded Dantonio for “failing to action to mitigate a foreseeable conflict from occurring.”
The league reprimanded Harbaugh for the comments he made about the incident and Michigan State’s handling of it while talking to reports after the game Saturday and again at a press conference Monday afternoon. Harbaugh said at the press conference that he thought the school’s athletic directors needed to discuss the issue further. He also paraphrased a quote from Dantonio to say the actions were a reflection of the Michigan State program.
Dantonio told reporters during this weekly press conference that he would not take any questions on the incident or its aftermath and that he was going to “let God take care of my battles.”