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.