Despite four members of the football program under criminal investigation, Michigan State says its support of its head coach has not wavered.
Michigan State announced Friday it has approved a 1-year contract extension for Mark Dantonio, a rollover provision in his contract. There was question of whether the Spartans would, uh, look into that provision as three unidentified football players and staffer Curtis Blackwell are now under investigation from multiple entities for alleged sexual assault. One of those investigations has resulted in arrest warrants sought by the Michigan State University Police Department.
“My sense is that, if we had anything to be concerned about, we wouldn’t have moved forward with the action today,” Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon told the Lansing State Journal. “We’re still looking at everything, because it’s in his interest, as well.”
The extension means Dantonio is now signed with the Spartans through 2023 on a $4.3 million salary with a $700,000 annual retention bonus.
Heading into his 11th season on campus, Dantonio is 90-42 with the Spartans with two Big Ten championships in the past four seasons but is coming off a 3-9 campaign, his worst in 13 seasons as a head coach.
A burgeoning scandal in East Lansing is showing no signs of slowing down let alone going away anytime soon.
The Ingham County (Mich.) Prosecutor’s office has received a request from the Michigan State University Police Department for arrest warrants in connection to an alleged on-campus sexual assault. The university last week announced that three MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.
The names of the football players allegedly involved have yet to be released.
As of now, the prosecutor’s office has yet to grant the MSUPD’s request. According to a press release, the office “will review all of the available evidence and information and make a review decision in the short-term future.” It’s expected that more evidence will be submitted by the police department later today.
In addition to the three players, who have also been evicted from their student housing, an MSU football staffer was also suspended. That staffer was subsequently identified as Curtis Blackwell.
In addition to the police probe, the university has also launched its own Title IX investigation.
Michigan State has indefinitely suspended three athletes and one staff member in relation to a criminal investigation into sexual assault allegations made against the group, and we now know the identity of the staff member.
The program confirmed on Tuesday to MLive that Curtis Blackwell is the staff member in question who is suspended from the school with pay.
Blackwell is best known as the director of the Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy, a series of camps that wield such influence in the state of Michigan that they can compel Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio to share a single table in the pursuit of football talent.
He joined the Spartans’ staff in 2013 as director of college advancement and performance, where his bio state he serves as a team mentor while also chipping into Sparty’s recruiting efforts.
In the meantime, Michigan State police are investigating the allegations, and the university has also compelled its Title IX office and an independent law firm to investigate the situation. The seriousness of the situation has required athletics director Mark Hollis to cancel a scheduled basketball trip to attend to the matter at hand on campus.
Not surprisingly, the coaching trees of Nick Saban and Bill Belichick could be further entwined depending on how events unfold over the next few days.
According to Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com, Brian Daboll is expected to interview for the Alabama offensive coordinator vacancy. Nearly a week ago, Steve Sarkisian created the opening by abruptly bolting from that post to take the same job with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
The 41-year-old Daboll has spent the past three seasons as the tight ends coach for Belichick’s New England Patriots. He’s in the midst of his second stint with the NFL club. In 1998 and 1999, Daboll was a graduate assistant for Saban, a former Belichick lieutenant, at Michigan State.
That was Daboll’s last job at the collegiate level as he’s spent each of the past 17 seasons in the NFL. Four of those years — Cleveland Browns (2009-10), Miami Dolphins (2011), Kansas City Chiefs (2012) — Daboll was the offensive coordinator on the NFL staffs.
George Godsey, a 38-year-old coach who’s spent the past six seasons in the NFL, is the only reported candidate before Daboll to have interviewed for the job.
Saban is also expected to consider an in-house replacement in Mike Locksley, who was promoted to co-coordinator last month. Chip Kelly was initially rumored to be a possibility, but (likely) isn’t in play; another former Oregon head coach, Mark Helfrich, is still rumored to be in play.
In addition to the coordinator job, Saban has two other coaching positions on the offensive side of the ball to fill.
It’s not been a very good look off the field for the Michigan State football program the past couple of weeks.
A long-time MSU commit didn’t put pen to paper on National Signing Day because he was sitting in jail. Earlier this week, a projected starter at right tackle announced that he had lost his love and passion for football and was walking away from the sport. Earlier today, the university announced that a football staffer is one of four individuals suspended after allegations of sexual assault surfaced.
Now it’s Demetrius Cooper adding to the off-field carnage as, the Detroit News is reporting, the Spartans defensive lineman was charged with assault & battery. The single misdemeanor count stems from a late-October incident in which it’s alleged that Cooper spit in the face of a parking officer.
From the News‘ report:
The incident occurred around 8:50 p.m. Oct. 30, 2016, when an officer with Parking and Code Enforcement said he saw a car parked illegally in front of Noodles and Co. in East Lansing. The officer issued a citation for impeding traffic and was confronted by Cooper, 21, who came out of the restaurant when he saw he was being given a ticket.
According to the report, PACE officer David Dalen explained the citation and Cooper headed back into the restaurant, at which time he advised Cooper he could receive another citation if the Chevrolet Impala remained parked illegally. That’s where the stories differ.
Dalen claims Cooper said, “I’m going to spit in your face. I should spit on you right now,” at which time police say he did spit on Dalen.
Cooper claimed to police that he told the officer he should spit on him but never did. An arrest warrant was issued nearly a month after the incident following an investigation.
Last season, Cooper started 11 games. He’s played in 38 games total heading into his fifth-year senior season.
MSU officials have not yet commented on the off-field development involving Cooper.