Mark Dantonio also gave a press conference on Friday night in which he said the reports of his mishandling of sexual assault allegations were “completely false.” ESPN reported that at least 16 Michigan State football players had been accused of sexual assault or violence against women since Dantonio took over as head coach, and their report mentioned that in one case, Dantonio allegedly dealt with a sexual assault accusation by having the player talk to his mother.


“Every incident reported in that article was documented either by police or the Michigan State Title IX office. I’ve always worked with the proper authorities when dealing with sexual assault,” Dantonio said on Friday.

His words, most confusingly, seem to conflict with something he said to media in June 2017 after several players were dismissed when they were charged with sexual assault or misconduct. At the time, Dantonio implied that his team had never had any problems with sexual assault.


“This is new ground for us,” he said in June. “We’ve been here 11 years—it has not happened previously.”

Both Izzo’s and Dantonio’s words sound like they were heavily influenced by conversations with lawyers. Because of that, at a time when the University is trying to change a culture that definitely enabled Larry Nassar to abuse over 100 women, and reportedly enabled over a dozen athletes to commit rape or otherwise assault women, two of the school’s most visible leaders come off as flat and uninspiring at best and in denial at worst. A basketball coach and a football coach are obviously not the two people we need to look to in a critical situation like this, but what Dantonio and Izzo say about MSU’s rape problem could go a long way toward influencing those who put school pride over justice. It’s unfortunate that all they’re doing is covering their asses.