Auston Robertson

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Mark Dantonio responds to accusation made by former staffer

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A day after an alarming story accused Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio of recruiting a player he was warned could be a potential problem, Dantonio has responded alongside his lawyer. Dantonio defended himself against the claims of former assistant Curtis Blackwell and re-directed to previous comments Dantonio made regarding the player in question.

“The fact that Mr. Blackwell’s contract was not renewed has nothing to do with Auston Robertson,” Dantonio said in a statement on Friday. “Two years ago, I spoke at length about Auston Robertson when he was dismissed from the team in 2017. Rather than engage in a public argument with a former staffer, I refer you to those previous statements. Further, there have been multiple investigations into the program’s handling of sexual assaults, including Jones Day in 2017 and the NCAA in 2018, and they concluded that the program and myself committed no violations.”

Blackwell, a former Michigan State recruiting director, claimed he and multiple coaches asked Dantonio not to continue recruiting Robertson, who was guilty of misdemeanor battery in high school and later was arrested and charged with assault to his girlfriend just after his freshman season in East Lansing. Robertson was later removed from the program.

Dantonio concluded his statement by saying he will have no further comment due to ongoing litigation.

“Mr. Blackwell’s lawsuit concerns his allegations that his contract was not renewed because he refused to co-operate with investigations being conducted by the MSUPD and a law firm hired to evaluate the MSU football program’s compliance with sexual assault reporting policies,” Dantonio’s lawyer, Tom Kienbaum, said in a separate statement. “The lawsuit has nothing to do with the recruitment or actions of any student athletes, including Auston Robertson.”

Michigan State recruit facing battery charges holds off on signing

AP Photo/LM Otero
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National Signing Day was a quiet one for Michigan State, but not one without a bit of a twist. Fort Wayne, Indiana defensive end Auston Robertson, a four-star player, did not send in his National Letter of Intent and now it remains unclear if that letter will ever be faxed over to the Spartans football offices. Robertson is facing a misdemeanor battery charge in Indiana, leaving his status hanging in midair.

Robertson announced on his Twitter account on Wednesday Michigan State remained his top choice but he was reviewing all of his options moving forward.

The Journal Gazette reports Robertson is accused of inappropriately touching a female classmate at Wayne High School. The incident occurred last October and he was arrested January 13. He was released five days later on a $750 bond and has a status hearing scheduled for next Wednesday.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is not permitted to discussing players that have not signed with his program, but he did allude to the possibility of adding one more player to the Class of 2016, seemingly referencing Robertson when discussing one more committed player that has not signed. Michigan State signed all of the other commits they expected to have lined up.

Robertson chose Michigan State over offers from a number of schools including Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Nebraska. Dantonio has a track record of leaving the door open for players who have gotten into some legal trouble, and he certainly has not slammed that door shut in Robertson’s face yet.