Campus fight, suspensions could affect bowl destination for Michigan State football team

By Tim Martin, AP
Friday, December 4, 2009

Campus fight could affect bowl plans for Mich. St.

LANSING, Mich. — A campus fight involving Michigan State football players and fraternity members could affect the Spartans’ bowl destination.

Alamo Bowl officials said Friday they are monitoring fallout from the Nov. 22 incident that has led to the dismissal of two Michigan State players and the suspension of eight others for a violation of team rules. No charges have been filed, but police are still investigating the fight at a campus residence hall.

Rick Hill, the Alamo Bowl’s vice president of marketing, said the incident is one of several factors that will be discussed before selections are announced Sunday. Hill said it’s not clear how much weight the selection committee will give to the incident.

“There’s all kind of variables that could happen and the incident at Michigan State is one,” Hill said. “We’ll just let it develop out and get all of the information we can and present it to our selection committee on Sunday, along with other factors.”

Michigan State officials are keeping both the Alamo and Insight bowls updated.

“(Athletic Director) Mark Hollis has kept the executive directors of both bowls fully apprised and has been frequently and openly talking with them about our process,” said Terry Denbow, a spokesman for the university in East Lansing. “I think they have full confidence in our process and in any decisions that could emanate from it.”

The Alamo Bowl could be looking at either Michigan State or Minnesota — both 6-6 — as its Big Ten representative. The other team in the Alamo Bowl will come from the Big 12.

How well fans of particular Big Ten team would travel to the Jan. 2 game in San Antonio is an important consideration for the bowl committee.

The Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., selects a Big Ten team after the Alamo Bowl has made a selection. The Alamo Bowl has higher team payouts and better television exposure.

Karl Price of Louisville, Ky., national president of Iota Phi Theta fraternity, 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 large but 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.

Michigan State has not provided details about the level of involvement players may have had in the incident.

Coach Mark Dantonio dismissed running back Glenn Winston and defensive back Roderick Jenrette from the team a few days after the incident. Both were out of the lineup with season-ending injuries.

Eight other players were suspended pending the outcome of the police investigation, which is expected to conclude next week. Among the players are three starters: defensive back Chris L. Rucker and receivers B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell.

It’s not known if the players might be reinstated for a bowl game.

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