COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Big Ten office has decided not to suspend any players or coaches for their actions in the wake of a fight in Saturday’s game between No. 2 Ohio State and archrival Michigan.
The conference office issued a public reprimand to Buckeyes starting right guard Marcus Hall and the Ohio State coaching staff on Monday.
Hall was ejected from the game for coming onto the field to participate in the skirmish. As he was leaving the sideline, he angrily threw his helmet to the ground, kicked the team bench and then held up both hands in an obscene gesture to Michigan fans.
“The officials and coaching staffs from both institutions did a good job of containing the situation once it started,” the Big Ten said in a statement. “As bad as it was, we’re fortunate the incident did not escalate any further. More can, and should, be done by both coaching staffs in the future to prevent similar incidents from detracting from this rivalry.”
Coach Urban Meyer has said he will issue punishment within the team to Hall, kick returner and backup running back Dontre Wilson and another player he did not identify. Wilson was seen throwing a punch.
“Very disappointed and angry that that happened,” Meyer said earlier Monday. “That’s not us. That’s not Ohio State and it’s not (Michigan).”
Michigan backup linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone was also ejected.
It appeared that other players from both teams could have faced punishment for perpetuating the fight.
The Big Ten reviewed video of the incident.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said before the decision was announced that the Big Ten office would be fair in its handling of the situation. He said there was no chance that the conference might allow the players to participate in Saturday’s game so that Ohio State — ranked No. 2 in the BCS — would be at full strength and remain a contender to play in the national championship game.
“No. (Big Ten Commissioner) Jim Delany doesn’t operate that way,” Smith said. “Neither does (Big Ten coordinator of football officials) Bill Carollo.”
Smith said he supported Meyer’s decision to not suspend the players involved in the fight.
“(Hall) made a bad, emotional mistake,” Smith said. “It’s a teachable moment for him and all of our players. So whatever the conference does and Urban does, I’m going to support them.”
Meyer said the players had already served their suspension for fighting.
“Throwing a punch, the rules are clear that you lose a game — and they lost their game,” Meyer said.
After Wilson returned a kickoff in Saturday’s 42-41 victory at Michigan, a melee broke out. Wilson was surrounded by Wolverines defenders. There was shoving by players from both teams, then Wilson had his helmet ripped off. That led to several players throwing punches.
The fight was a hot topic on social media. Ohio State fans said Wilson did not start the fight. Others said Meyer and the Big Ten should suspend Hall and Wilson for the Big Ten title game. There were also calls for additional Michigan players to be punished for their roles in the fisticuffs.
Hall later apologized on his Twitter account.
“I let my emotions get the best of me and didn’t conduct myself properly in the heat of the moment,” he said in his post. “My actions do not reflect who I am as a person and teammate. I love The Ohio State University and appreciate everything it has done for me. From the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry and hope everyone can accept my sincere apology.”