Michigan State interim president John Engler is doubling down on his defense of Spartans men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo and football coach Mark Dantonio, not reprimanding the pair of legendary coaches but instead praising their handling of sexual assault allegations against players on their teams.
In January, ESPN’s Outside The Lines reported it found “a pattern of widespread denial, inaction and information suppression” of sexual assault allegations against Spartans athletes in Izzo’s and Dantonio’s programs. Engler has previously referred to the Outside the Lines report as a “sensationalized package of reporting.”
“I think in Dantonio and Izzo you’ve got two coaches with great personal integrity who run very clean programs,” Engler said Thursday at a breakfast event organized by the Detroit Free Press, according to ESPN’s Dan Murphy. “That is not to say that everybody in those programs has always comported with what’s expected of them.”
The Outside the Lines report detailed numerous instances of Michigan State football and men’s basketball players not being punished for sexual assault allegations. Perhaps most notably, Travis Walton, then a graduate assistant under Izzo, smacked a female student in an East Lansing bar in 2010. He was permitted to continue traveling with the team during the corresponding investigation. His assault and battery case was dismissed, but soon he was named, along with two other Michigan State basketball players, in a sexual assault report made by a different female student at the university.
On Thursday, Engler answered questions from moderator Carol Cain and members of the audience about Michigan State’s’s handling of sexual assault.