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Michigan State players were seen roughing up Michigan’s Ja’Den McBurrows;  Jim Harbaugh calls it assault


Michigan’s longstanding rivalry with Michigan State boiled over Saturday night after the Wolverines’ 29-7 victory at The Big House – and it got ugly fast.

The Spartans players appeared to brutalize Wolverines defensive back Ja’Den McBurrows in the tunnel. Videos posted to social media appeared to show at least three Michigan State players pushing, punching and kicking McBurrows in and near a hallway that does not lead to any of the locker rooms.

A person near the fight could be heard saying, “What’s going on?”

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Michigan Wolverines defensive back Ja’Den McBurrows before the Big Ten Championship game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on December 4, 2021 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

There did not appear to be any other Michigan players near McBurrows when the incident occurred.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said a second player, who has not been identified, was also attacked and another was injured and may have a broken nose.

“Two of our players were assaulted,” Harbaugh said. “I saw on video. Ten to one. It was pretty bad. We have to investigate.”

Michigan State players were seen roughing up Michigan’s Ja’Den McBurrows;  Jim Harbaugh calls it assault

Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh shakes hands with Spartans head coach Mel Tucker at Michigan Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Ann Arbor.
(Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

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An investigation is underway in partnership with Michigan State University Police and the Michigan Athletic Department and Football Program, said Melissa Overton, assistant police chief for the University of Michigan.

“Situations like these, and the safety of the community, are taken very seriously,” Overton said.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, who attended the game, was also looking into the fight.

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Michigan State players were seen roughing up Michigan’s Ja’Den McBurrows;  Jim Harbaugh calls it assault

Michigan’s Mike Sainristil carries the Paul Bunyan Trophy after the Michigan State game in Ann Arbor, Saturday, October 29, 2022.
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

“What happened after the game was completely unacceptable,” Manuel said. “I’ve spoken to the commissioner. He’s looking into it. The police are looking into it because they’ve seen the video. That’s not how we should interact after the game. … That’s not how we should be the rivalry. It shouldn’t be the way we remember it.”

Another video showed a fan touching Michigan State coach Mel Tucker on the top of the head. Tucker then swept the fan.

“I know it was a heated game,” Tucker said of the tunnel incident. “We were trying to get our guys into the locker room. We’ll have to see what happened.”

Tucker added more in tweets on Sunday: “As Spartans, our program has a responsibility to maintain the highest level of sportsmanship. While emotions were running high at the end of our rivalry game at Michigan Stadium, there is no excuse for behavior that puts our team or our opponents at risk.

Michigan State players were seen roughing up Michigan’s Ja’Den McBurrows;  Jim Harbaugh calls it assault

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker watches Michigan in Ann Arbor, Saturday, October 29, 2022.
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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“In full cooperation with law enforcement, the Big Ten Conference, and leaders of MSU and UM, we will assess the events in Ann Arbor and take prompt and appropriate action.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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