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Michigan Stadium Tunnel to Be Widened After Review of Michigan State Fight

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 23, 2023

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 29:  Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) and Michigan Wolverines offensive lineman Trevor Keegan (77) walk into the tunnel as they head to their locker room while fans reach out to congratulate them at the end of a college football game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Michigan Wolverines on October 29, 2022 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In an effort to avoid future altercations like the one against Michigan State this past season, the University of Michigan will expand tunnel access to the field at Michigan Stadium, per Austin Meek and The Athletic Staff.

The plan is to eliminate 45 seats to provide space to widen the tunnel, although the capacity will remain at 107,601 because additional standing-room-only tickets will be made available.

The rivalry between the Wolverines and Spartans always generates headlines, but the altercation in the tunnel after Michigan's 29-7 win this past season overshadowed the actual game.

Social media posts captured a number of Michigan State players engaging in a physical altercation with Michigan defensive back Ja'Den McBurrows, as both he and teammate Gemon Green suffered injuries.

"Two of our players were assaulted," Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters. "I saw on the one video. Ten on one. It was pretty bad. It needs to be investigated."

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker took to social media to say there was "no excuse" for such behavior from his team:

Mel Tucker @Coach_mtucker

In complete cooperation with law enforcement, the Big Ten Conference and MSU and UM leadership, we will evaluate the events in Ann Arbor and take swift and appropriate action.

The Athletic noted Itayvion Brown, Angelo Grose, Justin White, Brandon Wright, Zion Young and Jacoby Windmon of the Spartans were all charged with misdemeanors, while Khary Crump pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault and battery and one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct as part of a plea deal after he was originally charged with one count of felonious assault.

In November, the Big Ten announced it finished its review of the altercation and accepted the school-imposed suspensions of Brown, Grose, White, Windmon, Wright, Young and Malcolm Jones.

However, it also fined Michigan State $100,000 and issued a suspension of an additional eight games for Crump.

Part of the conference's announcement, though, was a public reprimand of Michigan for a failure to "provide adequate protection for personnel of both home and visiting teams when entering and leaving playing arenas."

The Athletic noted Michigan's athletic department conducted its own safety review and determined removing the moveable seating near the tunnel entrance would lead to a safer environment because there would be additional space between the fans and players and coaches.

That is particularly notable since one fan was ejected from that contest for making contact with Tucker from the crowd.