The fallout from failing to properly investigate and monitor Larry Nassar is beginning this week, as we’ve seen Michigan State President Lou Ann Simon and now Athletic Director Mark Hollis resign. Hollis’ resignation came just hours before Outside the Lines released a comprehensive summary of their investigation into Michigan State’s handling of sexual assault allegations. (That, by the way, came after a prolonged battle between ESPN and the University over the nature of documents produced pursuant to public records requests).
Mark Dantonio, head football coach of the Spartans, may not ultimately survive this one if a lot of smoke in today’s report turns into fire and more specific, damning details of knowledge. Here’s what it says:
Yet former Michigan State sexual assault counselor Lauren Allswede, who left the university in 2015 over frustrations about how administrators handled sexual assault cases, told Outside the Lines that MSU administrators’ entire approach to such cases has been misguided for years. The biggest issue? Complaints involving athletes were routinely investigated and handled by athletic director Hollis’ department, and sometimes even coaches, she says.
Allswede told Outside the Lines that about seven years ago, an attorney from the university’s general counsel’s department came to her office to try to reassure her that coaches were taking allegations of sexual violence seriously. Allswede says the attorney told her how Dantonio, the football coach, had dealt with a sexual assault accusation against one of his players: He had the player talk to his mother about what he had done.
“That did not reassure me at all,” Allswede says. “There’s no guarantee that that had any effect, any help, whatever.”
The story details several investigations by campus police into allegations of sexual misconduct against the football team. It doesn’t specifically lay out Dantonio’s knowledge of those incidents and whether he had any role in influencing an investigation at this point. The story says “Dantonio was said to be involved in handling the discipline in at least one of the cases several years ago.” Presumably, that’s the one where the above handling is referenced, about talking to the mother. So, at this point, there’s a lot of stuff about the general culture at Michigan State that led to what happened with Nassar, and also the Title IX findings against the University.
But remember, Art Briles didn’t resign on the first sign of issues being reported. Sam Ukwuachu, who transferred in from Boise State in 2013, and was convicted criminally in 2015 after the school did not make a finding against him, happened some 10 months before Art Briles was formally out.
Details continued to emerge over that time that demonstrated the coaching staff’s involvement in the handling of sexual assault allegations, and a culture that put football over the safety of women on campus.
Mark Dantonio has some questions now, and it’s a long way until the season starts, and no certainty he will be the coach when it does get here.