Early Friday afternoon, ESPN’s Outside The Lines posted a detailed report into allegations surrounding Michigan State University’s handling of multiple sexual assault allegations over most of the last decade. By Friday night, the school’s two most famous faces had given their statements.
The ESPN report included allegations surrounding both the football and basketball programs. The story was posted shortly after former MSU athletic director Mark Hollis retired and just two days after Lou Anna K. Simon resigned as president.
Both Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio were addressed in the report, although Dantonio’s involvement was more detailed. The most direct connection came from former Michigan State sexual assault counselor Lauren Allswede.
Allswede says the attorney told her how Dantonio, the football coach, had dealt with a sexual assault accusation against one of his players: He had the player talk to his mother about what he had done.
”That did not reassure me at all,” Allswede says. “There’s no guarantee that that had any effect, any help, whatever.”
Minutes before the Spartans basketball team hosted Wisconsin, Dantonio spoke to the collected media. After reading a two-minute long prepared statement, the head coach took two questions from reporters.
Dantonio struck a defiant tone, vehemently denying any mishandling of violent reports against the program’s players. Additionally, he expressed sympathy for the victims of former MSU doctor Larry Nassar.
“Every incident reported in that article was documented by either police or the Michigan State Title IX office,” Dantonio said. “I’ve always worked with the proper authorities when dealing with the cases of sexual assault.”
A rumor had circled earlier in the day that both coaches would either be fired or step down from their positions. Dantonio flatly denied the rumor.
Following the Spartans 76-61 win over Wisconsin, Izzo spoke to the media. Izzo, unlike his football counterpart, spoke for over 10 minutes, addressing both the ESPN story and the basketball game.
Izzo started his comments by acknowledging the Izzone student section, which had worn teal shirts in support of sexual assault victims. Throughout his comments, he repeated his support and concern over assault survivors.
"I hope that I can be a big part of the healing process for them(survivors) and for our community."— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) January 27, 2018
The Hall of Famer said he and the program would cooperate with any investigation going forward. Like Dantonio, Izzo said he has no intention of leaving Michigan State.
"Well, I'm not going anywhere in my mind. I'm definitely not retiring. There's a lot of things that happened today that are part of life. I'm going to worry about my team, I'm going to worry about the survivors and I'm going to worry about what I"m going to do."— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) January 27, 2018
The Spartans are back on the court Sunday, on the road against Maryland.