Ahead of their huge Big Ten matchup with Wisconsin, and as expected, Michigan State has learned it will be without one of its top defensive players for the game.
In a release, the Big Ten announced that it — not the school, incidentally — has suspended defensive lineman William Gholston for one game based on his actions during the win over Michigan. Why head coach Mark Dantonio or the athletic department didn’t pull a Miami and preemptively suspend Gholston for throwing a punch at a UM offensive lineman — or for violently twisting the facemask of a prone Denard Robinson — instead of forcing the conference to intercede remains unclear.
Officially, Gholston will be suspended “for violating the Big Ten Sportslike Conduct Agreement during Michigan State’s game against Michigan on Oct. 15, 2011.” Here’s a portion of the conference’s release:
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.”
While MSU’s athletic director said that his university is accountable and “takes a great deal of pride in vigorously promoting positive sportsmanship”, he also intimated that the player on the receiving end of Gholston’s right-hand cross should shoulder some of the responsibility for what led to the incident.
“Make no mistake; there is no place for a thrown punch in a football game,” Mark Hollis said in a statement. “At the same time, it was important to get beyond the two-second video clip. It is critical that we strive to reduce and eliminate the sporadic incidents that detract from the game. In order to do that, we all must understand, be accountable and manage the environment to reduce these types of reactions.”
The loss of Gholston could have a significant impact on a showdown rife with Big Ten implications. Gholston is currently second on the Spartans in tackles for loss with seven, and is second among defensive linemen in tackles. Sophomore Denzel Drone is listed as Gholston’s backup on MSU’s latest depth chart.
Gholston himself took the tack of his athletic director, attempting to shift some of the blame toward the UM lineman.
“I deeply regret momentarily losing my composure late in the third quarter of last Saturday’s game against Michigan,” Gholston said in his statement. “Although provoked, my response was inappropriate. Coach (Mark) Dantonio regularly reminds us that actions have consequences, and I will be better prepared to handle these circumstances in the future. I look forward to my reinstatement.”