UI, MSU football teams to be fined

By Courtney Linehan

After both teams engaged in “unsportsmanlike conduct” at the end of the Michigan State-Illinois football game last Saturday, the Big Ten decided to fine both programs.

Illinois and Michigan State are both required to pay $10,000 fines after an Illinois celebration – which got in the way of Michigan State leaving the field – turned into a short-lived brawl between opposing players.

“The Big Ten and its member institutions, coaches, student-athletes and fans place a high value on competing fairly and with dignity regardless of the competitive outcome,” Big Ten commissioner James E. Delaney said in a statement released Wednesday. “The conduct of the players last week in the postgame environment violated our rules and expectations for student-athletes.”

In addition to the fine, both head coaches were reprimanded by the Big Ten. Michigan State head coach John L. Smith and Illinois head coach Ron Zook both expressed regret for the postgame incident.

“As I told our football team, we are going to win and lose with class, regardless of what’s happened in the past,” Zook said at his weekly press conference Tuesday. Referring to the altercation, Zook added, “That’s not something that we are going to allow to happen.”

The fight arose after Illinois players carried their flag toward the 50 yard line at Michigan State’s field, just as Notre Dame did in beating the Spartans 40-37 on Sept. 23. The Fighting Irish planted their flag on the field; Illinois never got there.

“It’s vital that our team promoted positive sportsmanlike conduct at all times,” Smith said in a statement Wednesday. “That clear message has been delivered to our football team.”