Posted by Adam Jacobi
In the third quarter of Michigan State's 28-14 victory over Michigan last Saturday, MSU star defensive end Will Gholston was seen throwing a punch at Michigan lineman Taylor Lewan, connecting somewhere around Lewan's neck or lower face mask. The incident drew a 15-yard penalty against Gholston, but he wasn't ejected, and Mark Dantonio left him in the game for the rest of the afternoon. Similarly, Dantonio left Gholston atop the Spartan depth chart this week heading into a critical battle with Wisconsin.
The Big Ten wasn't exactly impressed with Dantonio's approach to discipline, it seems, because the conference announced today that Gholston would be suspended for one game after the incident:
The Big Ten determined that Gholston’s actions at the end of the third quarter of the Michigan contest violated Big Ten Conference Agreement 10.01.1.A.1 - “Striking or attempting to strike or otherwise physically abusing an official, opposing coach, spectator or athlete.” The conference office also publicly reprimanded Gholston for his actions.
The Big Ten Sportslike Conduct Agreement states that “It shall be the responsibility of each member university to ensure that all of its students and all individuals employed by or directly associated with it comport themselves in a sportslike manner when representing their university, especially at intercollegiate athletic contests.”
After the Michigan-MSU game, we groused that Mark Dantonio's reputation as a disciplinarian didn't match his record, and that his stated policy of "zero tolerance" has now become more of a running gag than an actual aspect of Dantonio's approach to running his team. This latest move by Dantonio -- to figuratively punt on suspending a player who punched an opponent on the field of play, and make the Big Ten take care of it -- sounds much more like a coach concerned with winning the next game than one willing to take discipline seriously.
And hey, if Dantonio wants to leave player suspensions up to the conference, that's fine; that's exactly why the Big Ten has this policy in place. But it still doesn't paint MSU's program in a positive light when it comes to keeping the Spartans on the straight and narrow path.