Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo says he wants an apology from ESPN college basketball analyst Dan Dakich after several social media posts calling Spartans fans “whiny” and “dumb.” Time_Sports
The interim president at Michigan State has responded to an ESPN Outside the Lines report that shined a spotlight on how the university has been mishandling – or ignoring – allegations of sexual abuse and discrimination.
John Engler released a statement Tuesday via email to all the campus community, supporting men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo and football coach Mark Dantonio, both of whom were included in the story published Jan. 26. The report went beyond former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually abused more than 200 women and girls during his decades-long tenure.
Engler said in part: “This was a sensationalized package of reporting that continued allegations and insinuations that we are now reviewing. The coaches were asked to refrain from comment while the reports were examined. That has been a burden that must be lifted. I hope that MSU can soon respond in full and affirm the integrity and probity that has been the hallmark of these two respected coaches.
“It isn’t easy to live under a microscope. … I’m pleased – but frankly not surprised – at the willingness of so many to commence the hard work of making real change.
” … I’m fully aware that there is a lot of work to do and not much time to do it. I appreciate your support as we together address the urgent tasks in front of us.”
In the report, the programs of Izzo and Dantonio were said to have mishandled cases of sexual assault. Both coaches were alleged to have known of the complaints and helped sweep them under the rug. ESPN reported 16 football players and five basketball players who were alleged to have committed sexual assaults and/or attacks on women.
Izzo and Dantonio initially denied the allegations, then stopped talking to the media. In interviews before and after basketball games, Izzo has declined to comment numerous times, saying he’ll wait until the appropriate time.
Two days before the ESPN report hit, the NCAA sent the school a letter, notifying it that it would be investigating the culture around Nassar and how the system failed to protect its students.
In the wake of the Nassar scandal, the school’s president, Lou Anna K. Simon, and athletic director, Mark Hollis, have stepped down. The students and faculty have called for a more transparent process in which a new president will be chosen and many have called out Engler, a former governor, as being too close to some of the board members.
Nassar was sentenced in July to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges. In January, he was sentenced to 40-175 years in state prison on seven counts of criminal sexual assault. Earlier this month, he was sentenced to an additional 40-125 years on three counts of sexual assault. More than 200 girls and women read victim statements during the two sentencing hearings.
Among those gymnasts he abused were five Olympic gold medalists: Aly Raisman, Simon Biles, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber.
An Indianapolis Star investigation of USA Gymnastics, begun in 2016, uncovered widespread sexual abuse of athletes by coaches and others and failures to alert authorities. The reporting by the IndyStar, part of the USA TODAY Network, led to new federal laws requiring Olympic organizations and others to report all allegations of sexual assault to authorities and resulted in the ouster of USA Gymnastics’ president and its entire board.
Also Tuesday, the MSU faculty senate voted 61-4 ”no confidence” in the school’s board of trustees.
Contributing: Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press