BY TREVOR CALERO AND CHRIS MESZAROS
Daily News Editor and Daily Sports Writer
Published January 27, 2009
On the same day that two Michigan State players involved in an on-ice attack on a Michigan defenseman decided to leave the team, the Department of Public Safety confirmed that they would be looking into a possible criminal investigation of the incident.
DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said yesterday that University Police will review the on-ice conduct of both Michigan State players, Andrew Conboy and Corey Tropp, to determine whether or not to proceed with an investigation. The confirmation comes just hours after Michigan State coach Rick Comley announced the departure of both players at his weekly press conference.
With less than a minute left in Saturday’s 5-3 win against the Spartans, Michigan junior Steve Kampfer laid a clean hit on Tropp. Seconds later, Kampfer was hit from behind into the boards by Conboy and, while laying motionless on the ice, was slashed in the head and neck areas by Tropp. Comley called the hits "cheap" and "uncalled for" after the game.
Brown said that intent would be a determining factor when considering whether or not to investigate the incident, something that can be hard to do in an athletic setting.
Many actions considered commonplace on an athletic playing field would be viewed completely differently in normal, everyday life, Brown said. She added that University Police must determine if the players’ actions contain elements of a crime, even in an on-ice environment.
Both Conboy, a freshman, and Tropp, a sophomore, decided to leave the team a day after both were suspended for the rest of the hockey season, Comley said at his weekly press conference Tuesday.
Conboy will also be withdrawing from Michigan State University. It is unclear if Tropp will remain at Michigan State, but Comley said that if the sophomore stays enrolled through the spring, the coach will be willing to discuss the forward’s future with the team.
“It was a tough decision, but the right decision,” Michigan State coach Comley said. “I think the action that took place in the heat of the battle was inappropriate.
I don't think the kids are bad kids. I don't think it was premeditated.”
On Tuesday, Michigan coach Red Berenson agreed that he felt Kampfer wasn’t specifically targeted.
“It all comes down to intent — sometimes, its not what you do and why you do it,” Berenson said. “This was not a premeditated thing, but it was an instant reaction and it was too serious to overlook.”
Kampfer suffered a concussion and strained neck in the incident. Though he didn’t practice Tuesday, Berenson is hopeful Kampfer will practice with the team tomorrow pending medical clearance.
Berenson said he was unaware of the Michigan State players' decisions.
“I think it’s a serious situation and that’s a serious reprimand," Berenson said. "When you’re a coach, the first thing you want to do is defend your players, but there’s a point where there’s no defense. But I respect Rick Comley for making a tough decision like that.”