At this point, it might behoove the Michigan State football program, specifically, and the university, in general, to just settle. For whatever amount of money their former employee wants.
In May of 2017, Michigan State confirmed that the university had “parted ways” with Curtis Blackwell after opting not to renew the football staffer’s contract. Blackwell, whose official title with the program was director of college advancement and performance, was suspended with pay February 9 of that year, the same day three unidentified Spartan football players were suspended in connection to sexual assault allegations. While Blackwell was a part of the police investigations into the allegations, he was not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault but rather failing to disclose information he knew about the incident.
In a lawsuit filed in November of 2018, which named now-former head coach Mark Dantonio, among others, as a defendant, Blackwell alleged that his employment contract was violated when it wasn’t renewed by the university. According to February court filings connected to that ongoing suit, Blackwell and his attornies are also alleging that NCAA violations were committed by Dantonio. Among the violations alleged was that Blackwell visited a prospective recruit, which was not permitted because of his role in an off-field capacity. Additionally, Blackwell alleged that Dantonio helped arrange jobs for the parents of an unnamed, high-profile recruit as well.
The day after those documents were submitted, Dantonio abruptly announced his resignation.
Fast-forward to Tuesday. According to ESPN.com, Blackwell’s attorneys filed a new lawsuit “alleging more recruiting violations and wrongdoing committed by the football program under former head coach Mark Dantonio.” One of the new allegations? Under the direction of Dantonio, the Michigan State football program secretly videotaped the practices of a future opponent.
From the report:
The new lawsuit also claims that Dantonio may have committed a crime in another state by “making (or directing his staff members to make and distribute) an audio or video recording of another person (i.e. a competing football team’s practices) without consent and with the intent to invade their privacy.”
Warnicke declined to say in which state the potential crime occurred or add more details to that claim.
According to Blackwell’s attorney, the new lawsuit was filed in state court “because the federal judge would not allow them to amend his original suit to include new claims.”
Dantonio has previously claimed that the allegations had nothing to do with his decision to step down. One of Dantonio’s lawyers labeled the original claims as “false, scandalous, and wholly unsupported accusations.”
As a result of the allegations made by Blackwell, the university — and the NCAA — is in the process of investigating the claims. It’s assumed these latest allegations will be added to the probe’s to-do list.
“We are aware of the allegations made by Curtis Blackwell as part of his litigation,” an MSU spokesperson stated Feb. 19. “As with any allegation concerning NCAA compliance, MSU is investigating and working with the NCAA and Big Ten. We have fully complied with our self-reporting obligations to the NCAA throughout this case.”
Feb. 12, Colorado’s Mel Tucker was hired by Michigan State football to replace Dantonio. As part of Tucker’s six-year contract, there is a clause that protects the new coach should Michigan State football be sanctioned by the NCAA for the actions of the previous coaching staff. The language of the deal calls for an additional year to be added to the length of the contract “as of the date the sanction takes effect or, if such sanction lasts more than one year, the six-year term will be extended to match the length of the sanction period.”