As if things could not get worse for Michigan State University after the school’s terrible handling of the Larry Nassar ordeal, ESPN’s outside the lines report put the school in an even worse predicament. The report detailed a series of alleged sexual assault cases under Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo’s football and basketball teams. The report insinuates that Michigan State has a culture of disregarding sexual assault. Within a day, the report has had significant repercussions. Mark Hollis, longtime Athletic Director, decided to resign promptly after the report released yesterday, and Adreian Payne, former Spartan basketball star and first round NBA draft pick, was cut yesterday by the Magic from his 2 way contract, after the report included details of a rape case involving him and another former MSU basketball star Keith Appling.
Yesterday, MSU basketball played a home game against Wisconsin. Before the game, Mark Dantonio denied any mishandling of any situations, saying he was always informed of these cases first by the authorities. The atmosphere of the Breslin Center was definitely different from usual, as the Izzone all wore teal shirts to show their support of Larry Nassar’s victims. Izzo did not seem to be his normal self as his team resoundingly beat a mediocre Wisconsin squad. In a much anticipated Press Conference after the game, Izzo denied rumors of retirement in a very careful, somewhat allusive statement saying he would cooperate with any investigations.
As a longtime Michigan State Athletics fan, much of my childhood has been spent following and admiring Dantonio, Hollis, and Izzo. For the MSU community, it’s been extremely disconcerting to see what’s going on. The authority figures who we once looked up to have become vulnerable and morally questionable. Spartan Nation has always been a family led by Izzo and Dantonio. I think about Draymond Green, Mateen Cleaves, Denzel Valentine and Miles Bridges: Spartan superstars who Izzo has mentored into honorable young men. But this vision of a perfect, tightknit Spartan community where kids learn and grow from amazing leaders is now cloudy and may have just been a mirage.
For Spartan fans everywhere, it’s undoubtedly difficult to face these allegations, but we still believe in the concept of Spartan family and we still look at Miles Bridges decision to return to school with great pride. Yet ultimately, what we hope for most is the whole truth to come out, and that we can help change the culture at MSU towards being more respectful of women and taking these issues to heart. If the allegations end up being true, we will wholeheartedly support the necessary punishments. We know that being a spartan means sticking through adversity, and our loyalty to MSU will remain strong, but we’ll push for justice and change in an undoubtedly flawed environment.