There was both good and bad news for the Michigan State football program Monday afternoon. Given the dark cloud that’s hung over its head for the better part of the offseason, we’ll go with the good first.
Shortly after sexual assault allegations against three unnamed MSU football players surfaced in February, the university commissioned an external law firm to investigate how the coaching staff handled the situation. Tuesday, the firm, Jones Day, revealed that they “found no evidence that football coach Mark Dantonio violated the school’s relationship violence and sexual misconduct (RVSM) policy.”
In early February, Dantonio suspended three Spartans in the wake of allegations that a sexual assault took place on Ja. 16 at an off-campus apartment complex. In April, it was reported that another unidentified Spartans player was the subject of a second, unrelated sexual assault investigation; a week later, MSU defensive end Auston Robertson was dismissed after being charged with third-degree sexual misconduct.
Dantonio, his staff and the football program, for the most part, were praised for their handling of the situations.
“In both instances, we found that senior leaders within the football program and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics (Athletic Department) complied with the RVSM policy by promptly and accurately reporting the information they learned about the underlying incidents to departments within the University that are tasked with investigating and responding to such incidents,” the report reads. “We also found no evidence that senior leaders within the football program or Athletic Department attempted to impede, cover up, or obstruct the Office of Institutional Equity’s (OIE’s) investigation into the underlying incidents.”
In a statement, the school’s Board of Trustees, following a closed-door meeting with the university’s athletic hierarchy, including Dantonio, announced that the head football coach had their “full support.”
The report did note that one unnamed staffer, believed to be Curtis Blackwell, who parted ways with the program late last month, violated the school’s RVSM policy. “The investigation was unable to gauge the severity of any such violation, and the football staff member involved declined to be interviewed by investigators,” the Detroit Free Press wrote.
Now, for the bad news.
In a press release, the Ingham County Prosecutors Office announced that it is charging three unidentified MSU football players in connection to the alleged January incident. A criminal investigation conducted by campus police led to requests for four arrest warrants to be issued, although the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office had previously declined to act.
While the names of the players haven’t been released, that will change in short order.
Prosecutor’s office says it doesn’t release names until people are arraigned. Arraignments are expected to come tomorrow.
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) June 5, 2017
Even if the unnamed players successfully traverse the legal system, they will still have hurdles to clear in order to return to the team as a Title IX investigation found that they had violated university policy. The case will now go through the university’s student conduct system.