As Michigan State seeks to remedy a sexual assault scandal that’s enveloped the university in recent months, the university’s head football coach is hoping to be a part of the solution.
Coming off their sixth 10-win season in the last eight years, the Spartans kicked off spring practice Tuesday. Ahead of that, Mark Dantonio addressed the media and, not surprisingly, was asked about the sexual assault culture on the campus that’s dominated headlines of late.
… I want to commit to being part of the solution,” he said. “I made my statement on how I feel about things. Hopefully we’re healing as a community and healing as a university. It’s a step-by-step process. A lot of time spring is the time for a new beginning, so I’ll use that in this case as well. It’s an opportunity to grow and get better at everything that we’re doing and looking at. I think (interim president) John Engler has done a great job thus far organizationally in terms of confronting the issue.
At the height of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal, Dantonio’s own actions were called into question.
In the aftermath of Mark Hollis “retiring” as the athletic director at MSU late last month, 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 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.
After that report surfaced, speculation was rampant that Dantonio would be stepping down. In his only public comments until meeting with the media Tuesday, Dantonio at the time vehemently denied that he would be resigning, with a portion of his statement asserting “that any accusations of my handling of any complaints of sexual assault individually are completely false.
Earlier this month, it was confirmed that the university’s Board of Trustees had approved what’s become a ritual one-year contract extension for Dantonio. He’s now signed through the 2024 season.