Coach Mark Dantonio: Suspended Michigan State players won’t participate in bowl game

By Tim Martin, AP
Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dantonio: Suspended MSU players won’t play in bowl

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said Saturday that players suspended for being present at a campus fight will not make the Spartans’ upcoming bowl trip.

Dantonio has kicked two players off the team and suspended eight others as police continue to investigate the Nov. 22 fight at a campus dorm involving players and fraternity members. No charges have been filed.

The players suspended earlier this week include starting defensive back Chris L. Rucker and wide receivers Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham.

The Spartans (6-6) could go to the Alamo Bowl or the Insight Bowl. The decision is not expected until Sunday, after the BCS makes its selection of Big Ten teams.

Dantonio told reporters he was “very, very disappointed” by the incident.

“We talk all the time about our choices as people, and about making the right choice,” Dantonio said. “I think it’s a very traumatic experience for this program. We’ve got to be able to get past this situation.”

Dantonio said he is staying out of the investigation and that campus police have acted “very responsibly” during the probe.

“We’re going to allow the investigation to continue and the process to take its course,” Dantonio said. “There’s a lot of speculation out there in the public and a lot of different stories floating around. I think it’s important that we get to the truth.”

An Alamo Bowl official said this week the incident is one of several factors that would be considered before determining which team to invite to the game. The Alamo Bowl could end up picking between Michigan State and Minnesota to play a team from the Big 12.

The Insight Bowl picks a Big Ten team after the Alamo Bowl selection. The Alamo Bowl has higher payouts and better television exposure.

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

The other players were suspended indefinitely early this week. In addition to the three regulars, the suspended players are running back Ashton Leggett, receiver Fred Smith, defensive back Brynden Trawick, defensive lineman Ishmyl Johnson and linebacker Jamiihr Williams.

Police were still trying to identify others who may have been present at the fight.

Iota Phi Theta fraternity members say the players swarmed a dorm lounge as they were wrapping up a potluck dinner in apparent retaliation for a fight at an East Lansing-area bar the previous night. The residence hall incident came about 90 minutes after the Spartans finished their annual team awards banquet.

The players upset Dantonio not only because they were present at the incident, but because they were not forthcoming afterward.

“In the end, I do believe this will bring us closer as a football team and will give us strength,” Dantonio said. “You may not see that now but I do believe that will happen for our football team.”

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