Michigan State Fires Suspended Football Staffer Three Months Into Rape Investigation

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The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday that Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio decided not to renew the contract of Curtis Blackwell, a football staff member who was previously suspended with pay the same week that three separate investigations were initiated to look into a reported rape.

The former director of college advancement and performance was suspended on Feb. 9, the day the school announced it had suspended three unnamed players and a staff member while an external investigation into a reported rape was completed. The suspensions stemmed from a report of rape at an on-campus apartment complex on Jan. 16. Michigan State police received a complaint the following day.


According to the Free Press, records show that athletic director Mark Hollis reasoned Blackwell’s suspension was due to “several allegations regarding your conduct.” The school’s PR team has declined to elaborate. The school barred him from participating in team activities and contacting Michigan State athletes and recruits for the duration of his suspension. Blackwell’s annual contract expired on March 31, but Michigan State signed him to a pair of one-month extensions worth $21,500 total; Dantonio elected to let him go before the contract would need to be renewed again on May 31.

On May 23, the attorney representing the alleged victim told the Free Press that Title IX investigators found the three suspended players violated school policy and confirmed their case is making its way through the Michigan State student conduct system. Punitive action will be handed down by a three-person, university-run panel; the attorney of one of the players said they plan to appeal any punishments handed down by the panel as well as the investigative findings.


Meanwhile, Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon continues with her investigation of the alleged assault. No charges have yet been brought, but Michigan State police are seeking four warrants, including one for obstructing an investigation. A third investigation, conducted by the law firm Jones Day, is reviewing the football program as a whole to ensure university and athletic department policy was followed in the reporting of the alleged rape.

[Detroit Free Press]