The cloud hanging over Michigan State athletics keeps growing darker.
A report Friday from Outside the Lines’ Paula Lavigne details a culture of sweeping allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct under the rug at Michigan State. She includes news about former Spartans basketball guard and graduate assistant coach Travis Walton allegedly being accused of both punching a female student in the face and joining two Michigan State basketball players in sexually assaulting a different female student in 2010.
Walton, the 2009 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, allegedly approached a group of female students at an East Lansing, Mich., bar on Jan. 16, 2010. When his efforts to engage in conversation were rebuked, he punched then-Michigan State junior Ashley Thompson in the face, according to the report.
“I barely got the words out of my mouth, and he came across and he struck me on the right side of my face,” she says. “I kind of reached back toward him, and I didn’t make contact, and then that’s when he swung with a second reach and hit me on the left side of my face and hit me so hard that it knocked me backwards off of my barstool.”
An arrest warrant was issued for Walton, but when he pleaded not guilty to charges, the presiding judge permitted Walton to keep traveling with the team while the case was pending. On April 21, 2010, Walton’s assault and battery cases were dismissed; he pleaded guilty to a civil infraction of littering.
Later that month, Walton was named in a sexual assault report, along with two Spartans basketball players, made to the athletic department. Walton was fired, but the two players were not reprimanded, according to Outside the Lines. Walton, who now coaches for the NBA G League’s Agua Caliente Clippers in Ontario, Calif., denied the accusations of sexual assault.
” ‘I don’t recall anything from that. Wow.’ He says he didn’t coach at Michigan State in the fall of 2010 because he returned to playing professional basketball, in Europe.”