In what has been the biggest blip on head coach Mark Dantonio’s radar since coming to East Lansing, charges have finally been handed out in coordination with the on-campus incident which occurred on Nov. 22.
According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, nine players were charged Wednesday with misdemeanor conspiracy to commit an assault and battery as well as assault and battery. These players are safety Roderick Jenrette, running back Glenn Winston, wide receiver Fred Smith, wide receiver B.J. Cunningham, defensive end Jamiihr Williams, wide receiver Mark Dell, running back Ashton Leggett, offensive tackle J'Micheal Deane and cornerback Chris L. Rucker.
Deane is the only new player listed since the allegations were first released to the public. Three players—Jenrette, Winston and Leggett—face multiple assault and battery charges. The conspiracy charges carry a one-year maximum jail term, while the assault and battery misdemeanors carry the maximum of 93 days.
While more charges may potentially be pending, let’s analyze this current situation.
Everybody knew this was coming. This wasn’t Tiger Woods driving into a tree and getting acclimated with women not named Elin Nordegren. Spartan fans and NCAA followers nationwide were aware of the allegations and were only waiting for the official charges to be handed out.
Is the Michigan State football program in worse shape than it was on Tuesday? Perhaps. But how much worse can things really get when you consider the disarray which ensued after the incident in late November?
The answer is slim to none. These players were already suspended and were not going to participate in the team’s appearance in Texas for the Alamo Bowl. The only difference now is that these players have been legally reprimanded and are facing certain arraignments. It may affect friends of these athletes, but the team has to move forward anyway, and I’d like to believe they have already made strides in that department.
This situation fits the adage, “If the punishment fits the crime.” The thug-like actions of these players have created an atmosphere of perceived incompetence at the university, almost on the verge of adding on to Michigan State’s reputation in a negative connotation.
This is nothing new in college sports, though.
Days before the Florida-Alabama contest in the SEC Championship, Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap fell asleep at a green light while (attempting) to drive his vehicle while in a drunken stupor.
Football players from Tennessee were arrested in October on charges of attempted robbery, wielding pellet guns outside a convenience store. And these were Lane Kiffin’s prized recruits—although maybe there is a correlation between the man and the players he recruits, but that’s a completely different issue altogether.
The point is college athletes in the present era more than any other feel a sense of entitlement. They don’t get paid even though they bring in millions of dollars of revenue, but they become campus celebrities and the toast of the town. Many of the good players get paid copious amounts of cash to play professionally as well.
That doesn’t change the fact that being recruited to play at a university is a blessing. It is a gift to be able to shine on television and get the opportunity to become a pro prospect.
These Michigan State players charged need to take a look at themselves and learn how to embrace the moment rather than ruin it. If they do they will not only become better players and teammates, but they will also develop into better men.