(97.1 The Ticket) After answering questions on Friday night about former players within his program being accused of sexual assault and violence against women, Tom Izzo faced round two on Sunday afternoon.
A Washington D.C.-based ESPN reporter — Tisha Thompson — put Izzo on the spot regarding several allegations made by an Outside the Lines story, including that former assistant coach Travis Walton punched a female student in the face at a bar near campus in 2010.
The story painted the portrait of a university that blindly protects its male athletes, and an athletic department that values winning over everything else.
Here’s the exchange between Thompson and Izzo following Michigan State’s win at Maryland.
The transcript below comes via the Free Press.
Thompson: “Coach, Tisha Thompson, Outside The Lines. In 2010, Travis Walton was charged with assault and battery for punching a female student in the face. There were witnesses, she was injured. Why was he allowed to continue with the coaching staff and be with the team while charges were pending?”
Izzo: “Well, as I said before, we’ll cooperate with any investigation and always have. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it moving forward. That’s about all I’m going to say on it. We did cooperate with everything.”
Thompson: “We want to give you every opportunity to answer questions. There’s a lot of questions. A big one is why did Travis leave the program in 2010?”
Izzo: “I don’t know what you mean. He graduated.”
Thompson: “He was with your staff throughout 2010. An allegation came forward later that year from a woman and her family to the athletic department that he and two other players raped her. He then left the program later that year in 2010. Why?”
Izzo: “To be honest with you, I don’t know why he left. I know he went to Europe to play. As you know, I’ll still say I’ll cooperate with any investigation that’s made. I did it then, I did it before. And I’m not going to answer any questions that aren’t pertaining to either basketball basketball or things I’m not going to talk about now.”
Thompson: “Let me ask you this question then. Looking back at the way sexual assault allegations have been handled by your basketball program, do you have any regrets?”
Izzo: “I’ve cooperated with every investigation. Every one. And I will continue to cooperate with every investigation. Every one.”
Thompson: “What do you tell (players) when it comes to conducting themselves with women?”
Izzo: “There’s a good question. And I tell them every day. At the end of every practice, in the huddle, I go over an academic thing, a couple social things and a basketball things. That takes place every single day and it takes place after every single game and every single trip.”
Thomspon and an ESPN cameraman then followed Izzo into the hallway toward the Michigan State locker room to ask follow-up questions. Thompson documented the exchange on Twitter.
Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio, whose program was also implicated in the Outside the Lines report, was defiant when he addressed the media on Friday. He called the allegations that he mishandled sexual assault complaints “absolutely false.”
Izzo will likely next face the media following Michigan State’s game versus Penn State on Wednesday.