Over the first half of last year, four Michigan State football players were kicked off the team for sexual assault; three for a January 2017 incident in which a woman said the trio forced her to perform oral sex on all of them, and the fourth for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at her apartment.
"This is new ground for us," Dantonio said at a press conference last June. "We've been here 11 years, it has not happened previously."
We now know that is not true.
ESPN dropped a major investigative report on Friday which, among other things, details that at least 16 Spartans football players have been accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment over the course of Dantonio's 11-year tenure. Here are two of them:
- On Dec. 18, 2009, a woman told campus police that her boyfriend, a freshman defensive lineman, shoved her up against the wall of an elevator, pushed her to the ground, kicked her in the torso, and punched her in the collarbone and under her left eye after she smacked him in the face. The football player told police he had been trying to restrain her while she tried to hit him, and he never kicked or struck her. Prosecutors dropped the case after the woman declined to press charges.
- On Jan. 17, 2010, a woman told campus police that a freshman wide receiver and another football player had raped her in November 2009, prompting her to start drinking excessively and become suicidal. She said she went to the players' dorm room after a fraternity party, and the players took off her clothes and began kissing her, to which she consented. They asked her to perform oral sex on them, but she refused. She told police that when she decided to leave and bent over to put her pants on, she was raped. The players said the sex was consensual and that they took her home as soon she said she wanted to leave. Court records show no charges were filed.
It's impossible not to read the report and not see parallels to Baylor, where the athletics department claimed jurisdiction over sexual assaults involving athletes and then did not investigate and/or adjudicate them properly.
Said Michigan State sexual assault counselor Lauren Allswede to ESPN:
"Whatever protocol or policy was in place, whatever frontline staff might normally be involved in response or investigation, it all got kind of swept away and it was handled more by administration [and] athletic department officials. It was all happening behind closed doors. ... None of it was transparent or included people who would normally be involved in certain decisions."
While the scope of the report extends well beyond Dantonio, it also does not shine him in a good light.
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," she says. "There's no guarantee that that had any effect, any help, whatever."
Friday's report flows from the ongoing Larry Nassar scandal, the former doctor for the Spartans' gymnastics team who was sentenced on Wednesday to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting nearly 200 girls and young women while working for Michigan State or USA Gymnastics.
MSU president Lou Anna Simon resigned Wednesday night, and Spartans AD Mark Hollis retired on Friday morning.
Dantonio and men's basketball coach Tom Izzo -- whose program also features prominently in the ESPN report -- could soon face their own days of reckoning.