The Larry Nassar scandal has already cost Michigan State’s president and athletic director their jobs. Another high-profile athletic official at the university who’s rumored to be in the scandal’s crosshairs, on the other hand, has come out swinging in his own defense.
In the aftermath of Mark Hollis “retiring” as the athletic director at MSU Friday morning, an ESPN Outside the Lines report alleged that, since 2007, at least 16 Spartans football players have been accused of sexual assault or violence against women; the beginning of that timeline coincides with Mark Dantonio taking over the Spartans football program as head coach, a position he’s held the past 11 seasons. In the damning report, it was alleged that, in at last one instance, Dantonio personally handled a claim made against one of his players instead of going through the proper Title IX channels.
Following the OTL report, speculation was running rampant that Dantonio was planning on stepping down as MSU’s head football coach. During an impromptu meeting with the media Friday evening, Dantonio labeled the resignation speculation as “absolutely false.” Furthermore, in response to the allegations directed at him in the OTL report, Dantonio said in a statement he read to the media that he’s “here tonight to say that any accusations of my handling of any complaints of sexual assault individually are completely false.”
Below is the entirety of the statement Dantonio read to the media addressing the day’s developments:
During this extremely difficult and challenging time for our community, I would first like to express our deepest sympathies and my deepest sympathies to the courageous survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear their stories and the pain and suffering they went through, and we are only in the beginning stages of the healing process for the community and even more importantly for the survivors and their families.
I have received many questions and inquiries about today’s reports and the latest reports. I’m here tonight to say that any accusations of my handling of any complaints of sexual assault individually are completely false. Every incident reported in that article was documented by either police or the Michigan State Title IX office. I have always worked with the proper authorities when dealing with cases of sexual assault.
We have always had high standards in this program, and that will never change. The values that we teach to everyone in this program will be enforced. We’ve also always tackled problems here head-on and have dealt with issues. When you find out about the problems, it has come from the police or the university authorities. I can assure you as in last year’s incident, I also immediately reported that to the proper authorities.
That’s really all I have to say. I want to thank you for your time. You know, I’m advised against questions, but I feel completely steadfast in what I said today.
Former Stanford and Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin was detained and questioned by authorities on Friday after a social media post contained a vague threat to a school shooting, but that wasn’t the only such incident involving a former football player and a possible school shooting to emerge on Friday.
Former Arizona State defensive back Edward “Robbie” Robinson was arrested Friday night after making “terroristic threats” against students and staff at ASU after a social media account purporting to be his said he was trying to buy a gun to “spray the stadium up.”
Here is the tweet in question.
In another post, Robinson’s account posted a screenshot of a text message exchange with someone claiming to be an Arizona State police detective saying, “You’re not in trouble. We just want to talk to you.”
ASU police notified the campus after receiving word of “threats of violence against members of the Sun Devil athletics community,” according to the Arizona Republic.
Robinson (left, No. 6) was a 3-star recruit out of DeMatha Catholic High School in Hampton, Va., who signed with the Sun Devils as part of their 2016 class. He has not been enrolled in school for more than a year, according to the Republic.
Bond for Robinson was set at $50,000, and a GoFundMe account had raised just over $1,500 toward that number at press time. However, Robinson was still tweeting as of Saturday evening.
Michigan wideout Drake Harris announced in November he’s leaving Ann Arbor for his final season of college football. On Saturday, we learned Harris is heading west. But not that far west.
Harris revealed in an Instagram post he will enroll at Western Michigan as a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately for the Broncos. “I’m happy to announce that I will be playing my last year of eligibility at Western Michigan University, while pursuing a masters degree. Excited to get working with Coach Lester and the rest of the coaching staff for a great year next season. Go Broncos,” he wrote.
Harris was one of the prized members of Brady Hoke‘s final recruiting class, but never found his footing as a Wolverine. In 25 career games, Harris caught nine passes for 60 yards.
He’ll join a receiving corps that returns intact but could use help. Western Michigan returns all eight wide receivers who caught a pass in 2017, but none of them snagged more than 30 receptions. WMU ranked 111th in completions and 116th in passing en route to a 6-6 finish in Tim Lester‘s first season as head coach.
Harris will face Syracuse in his first game as a Bronco — Aug. 31 in Kalamazoo — before returning to a familiar place for Game No. 2. Western Michigan visits the Big House on Sept. 8.
If there was one thing that really seemed to put Kevin Sumlin on the hot seat during his time at Texas A&M, it was the Aggies seemingly annual collapse in the second half of the season and inability to finish games they had the potential to win. That explains some of the reason why the school ponied up to lure Jimbo Fisher from Florida State in a $75 million hire late last year.
While most of the outside focus on Fisher’s move to College Station has been centered on that humongous contract, there’s little question that hiring a national title-winning coach was a coup for the team. That subject was brought up again on the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show Friday evening and ESPN college football analyst Booger McFarland relayed a rather interesting conversation he had with the coach earlier this year in which Fisher said something you typically don’t hear made public. You can head to the 8:18 mark (or there abouts) for the interview.
“I talked to Jimbo in Atlanta. I told Jimbo point-blank — the same thing I told you guys about Texas A&M the last several years — A&M is a soft program,” McFarland said. “Jimbo looked me in the eye and was like, ‘You know what, you’re damn right. We are soft, but I’m going to change that.’”
Something says that Fisher and the Aggies strength coaches are going to use the comments as a bit of a challenge in the weight room and during spring practice over the coming months as they lay the groundwork for the 2018 season. Even the most ardent maroon and white supporters would probably agree with the sentiment that the team went a little soft toward the end of Sumlin’s tenure but it’s not everyday you see a coach call out his new program quite like that.
Maybe it’s something in the water down there in College Station though, judging by some other comments by the school’s athletic director, but one thing is for certain — things are going to be very different at Texas A&M going forward.
In the days before you were limited to 85 scholarship players, it was not totally uncommon to see teams stock their rosters full of players and wind up in the triple-digits with close to 200 players on a team. Even after the NCAA mandated a limit of 85 scholarships, roster sizes were still not that much smaller when you factored in walk-ons and others on a squad.
It appears Scott Frost wants to get back to those sort of days in Lincoln and is apparently pushing the school to help him expand the Cornhuskers roster right into the 150 range.
“I’d like to accommodate (Frost’s) desire” to expand the roster, athletic director Bill Moos said this week in an interview with Rivals’ HuskerOnline. “But we do have that issue with Title IX” along with locker room facilities challenges, organized practice schedules, and other daily management nuts and bolts to sort through.
“Nebraska has been known for having a lot of players on the team…a lot of walk-ons. I’d like to get back to that,” Frost had said on Signing Day earlier in the month. “The best thing Coach (Tom) Osborne did was have everybody practice… and part of that is what led to the development of players and helped walk-ons and young players get better faster and get on the field and help the team. I think that’s an asset that Nebraska can have if we’re willing to expand the roster.”
HuskerOnline details some of the compliance and budgetary challenges that going to 150 would entail but it certainly sounds like the school is making the effort to beef the numbers up. The Cornhuskers are well known in college football history for their walk-on program and roughly 10-15 walk-ons per class would apparently help them land right around Frost’s ideal roster size after factoring in the 85 full-scholarship players he would recruit.
Interestingly, going to 150 would allow the program to pass Michigan for the Big Ten’s biggest roster. The Wolverines under Jim Harbaugh are reportedly sitting at around 135 players after the 2017 season while most of the other conference’s schools are mostly around the 120 mark with a few exceptions. Title IX is not surprisingly the biggest obstacle for teams but it seems like some can manage things with no issue.
Frost was hired this offseason to help take Nebraska back to their perch atop college football and it seems like he is certainly attempting to do that in more ways than one when it comes to Big Red.