ESPN report puts MSU's Dantonio, Izzo under fire - WNEM TV 5

ESPN report puts MSU's Dantonio, Izzo under fire

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Mark Dantonio (left) and Tom Izzo (right) Mark Dantonio (left) and Tom Izzo (right)

ESPN released a bombshell report on Friday detailing new allegations against Michigan State University.

The report connects Football Coach Mark Dantonio and Basketball Coach Tom Izzo to a pattern of mishandled sexual assault allegations at the university.

ESPN’s investigative show Outside the Lines is reporting both teams have a history of problems.

Some of the most damaging findings from the report are as follows:

  • Since Mark Dantonio began his run as head coach for the Spartans, at least 16 MSU football players have been accused of sexual assault. That includes the four who were charged last year. The previously unreported cases that were discovered include three reports of physical violence and three reported sexual assaults by football players.
  • A former undergraduate student/assistant coach for the Spartan’s men’s basketball team, Travis Walton, was charged with punching a female student in 2010. Several months later he was accused of sexually assaulting a different female student.
  • Later in 2010, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling were accused of rape. The university failed to start a Title IX investigation, which is required by federal law. The school then hired an outside attorney who concluded that university policy had not been violated by either player.
  • Former MSU sexual assault counselor Lauren Allswede told Outside the Lines the school’s administration has been mishandling these cases for years. That is why she left in 2015.

>>Related: Students protest handling of sex abuse claims<<

Dantonio defends himself in brief statement

Dantonio said he's always worked with the correct authorities in cases involving sexual assault allegations. He addressed reporters briefly Friday night.

"I'm here tonight to say that any accusations of my handling of any complaints of sexual assault individually are completely false," Dantonio said. "Every incident reported in that article was documented by either police or the Michigan State Title IX office. I've always worked with the proper authorities when dealing with the cases of sexual assault."

Dantonio was asked about rumors that he was planning to resign. He said that is "absolutely false."

Fans keep faith in the green and white

"I think it is beginning to turn into a witch hunt," said Kay Mayer, MSU fan.

Anna Graham is on the side of the coaches.

"I don't think Dantonio, I don't think Izzo should be held responsible for this," Graham said.

She is concerned about the report's claims though.

"I mean, that's not good. It's not good that anything happened," she said.

Graham believes the school has done its best to handle the situations, although it wasn't perfect.

"An opener attitude to complaints from below might've helped," Graham said.

She is standing by her university and believes with the new atmosphere of hope and recovery at MSU, incidents like the ones in the investigation won't happen again.

"I don't doubt that anything will be neglected in the future. I really don't think there are going to be a whole slew of more episodes," Graham said.

>>Related: MSU athletic director retires over Nassar sex abuse<<

Others want to see action

"I think about girls that have been in my life, family and ones that I love and it's sickening," said Corey Vandendries, Grand Blanc resident.

He said he is shocked by the report.

"I've always looked at MSU as a really prestigious program," Vandendries said. "If it's all true it's pretty disgusting."

Joshua Peraino, Flint resident, said he has watched the teams for years.

"As a die hard fan it's just mind-blowing that the head coaches wouldn't say anything," he said.

In one specific instance, the report said Dantonio was handling accusations of rape against one of his players and chose to punish him by telling him to tell his mother what he had done.

Peraino said he gets it, but thinks the punishment was not enough.

To me, a mother is like a very important person in my life. So that is humiliating. But at the same time, that's it? That's the punishment," he said.

Peraino thinks the coaches need to be held accountable. Which is something Vandendries agrees with.

"Definitely the ones who are guilty and the coaches. They are guilty that hid this stuff. They should all be held accountable for sure," Vandendries said.

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