(97.1 The Ticket) Hours after it was reported that the football and basketball programs at Michigan State have been neglectful in dealing with cases of sexual assault over the past several years, Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio took to the podium at Breslin Center on Friday night to assert the opposite.
“I’m here tonight to say that any accusations of my handling of any complaints of sexual assault, individually, are completely false,” Dantonio said. “Every incident reported in that (ESPN) article was documented by either police or the Michigan State Title IX office.
“I have always worked with the proper authorities when dealing with cases of sexual assault. We have always had high standards in this program, and that will never change. The values that we teach to everyone in this program will be enforced.
“We’ve also always tackled problems here head-on and have dealt with issues. When we find out about the problems, it has come from the police or the university authorities. I can assure you, as in last year’s incident, I also immediately reported them to the proper authorities.”
The ESPN story documented six previously unreported cases of sexual assault or violence against women committed by members of the Michigan State football team from 2009 to 2014.
Asked if he knew about those incidents, Dantonio said repeatedly, “They came to me from the authorities.”
He added, “When I found out about a sexual assault, I reported them immediately. That was as of last year’s.”
Four football players were charged with sexual assault last year and subsequently kicked off the team. According to ESPN, at least 16 football players have been accused of sexual assault during Dantonio’s 11-year tenure as head coach.
This led to rumors that the coach planned to resign.
“That is absolutely false,” Dantonio said. “I’m here for Spartan nation, I’m here for our football program and for my family, and to look the people in the eye who, I guess, instigated those reports.”
Dantonio opened his press conference, which lasted about three minutes, by expressing sympathy for the victims of Larry Nassar.
“During this extremely difficult and challenging time for our community, I would first like to express our deepest sympathies and my deepest sympathies to the courageous survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear their stores and the pain and suffering they went through. We are only in the beginning stages of the healing process for the community, and even more importantly, for the survivors and their families,” Dantonio said.
The coach spoke to the media in the wake of the ESPN report, he said, because he “thought it was important to come and address this and look people in the eye.”