9 Michigan State players face misdemeanor charges
LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Authorities charged nine Michigan State football players with misdemeanor assault and conspiracy Wednesday following a dormitory brawl last month that has left the team short-handed for its Jan. 2 bowl game.
All nine players were charged with conspiracy to commit assault and battery, according to Ingham County prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III and campus police chief James Dunlap. Each was also charged with at least one count of assault or assault and battery.
Coach Mark Dantonio has suspended 11 players, up from eight following the Nov. 22 incident. Two days afterward, he dismissed running back Glenn Winston and defensive back Roderick Jenrette, both of whom have been charged in the incident.
The players could face up to a one-year maximum sentence on the conspiracy charge, and up to 93 days on the other charges. All are misdemeanors.
Dunnings said more charges could be filed.
“There’s an ongoing investigation, so I wouldn’t rule that out,” the prosecutor said.
The suspensions come as Michigan State (6-6) prepares for a Jan. 2 game with Texas Tech (8-4) in the Alamo Bowl matchup of Big Ten and Big 12 teams.
Michigan State spokesman Terry Denbow said none of the suspended players is allowed into the weight room, study areas or other parts of the football building. They will not travel with the team to the game in San Antonio.
“They don’t have access to any of the activities,” he said. “None of them are preparing for the bowl game.”
Karl Price of Louisville, Ky., national president of Iota Phi Theta fraternity, has said the dispute started with a run-in between a few football players and members of the fraternity at an East Lansing nightclub on Nov. 21.
One night later, Michigan State held its annual football awards banquet. Roughly 90 minutes after it ended, a group of players allegedly went across the street to Rather Hall, where the fraternity was wrapping up a potluck dinner in the dorm lounge.
Versions of what happened next vary. Some have said 15 or more people – some wearing ski masks – got involved in a brief fight. Others say there were no ski masks and that most in attendance were just bystanders.
Campus police have not said if any injuries resulted from the altercation. Iota Phi Theta said one of its members was treated at a hospital.
When the bowl game was announced on Sunday, Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins said it will hurt not having the suspended players.
“My heart breaks for those guys,” he said.
Among the eight players Dantonio originally suspended were three starters: defensive back Chris L. Rucker and receivers B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell. All were charged Wednesday.
The four suspended nonstarters who were charged are Fred Smith, Ashton Leggett, Jamiihr Williams and J’Michael Deane. The suspended players who weren’t charged are Brynden Trawick, Ishmyl Johnson, Donald Spencer and Chris D. Rucker, no relation to Chris L. Rucker.
Denbow said Dantonio suspended three additional players as he became aware of their participation in the dispute.
The university is continuing its own police investigation. None of the players’ standing as students is affected, Denbow said.
Associated Press Writer Tim Martin contributed to this story.