Michigan State’s season does not begin for close to three months, but Mark Dantonio has already started winning in 2020.

After a judge recommended tossing former Michigan State recruiting staffer Curtis Blackwell’s wrongful termination lawsuit against Dantonio and MSU, the same judge — Sally Berens of the U.S. District Court’s Western District of Michigan — has awarded damages.

Berens, according to the Lansing State Journal, ordered Blackwell to pay $25,000 to Dantonio, former Michigan State AD Mark Hollis and former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon, plus $27,010 to two detectives on the MSU police force.

While Dantonio is set to (in theory) receive a check from Blackwell, it’s unlikely that he’ll profit from the lawsuit. Attorneys for Dantonio and the other defendants requested $200,000 in sanctions to cover the lawyers’ hourly rates.

Blackwell’s attorneys accused Dantonio of knowingly violating NCAA recruiting rules, for which Berens tossed them from the case.

“Because the court has already ordered the more severe and unusual sanctions of dismissal of a portion of the case and removal of counsel in order to guarantee the integrity of the court and its proceedings, it is not, in the courts’s view, necessary or appropriate to award fees on the scale that defendants requested,” Berens wrote in her order.

Dantonio hired Blackwell to work in Michigan State’s recruiting operation, but allowed his contract to expire in May 2017. Blackwell sued 18 months later for wrongful termination, alleging he was scapegoated for covering up sexual assault complaints against three Spartans football players.

Blackwell has since filed another lawsuit against Dantonio and one of his former lawyers, among others.

Dantonio stepped down in February after 13 seasons as Michigan State’s head coach. He left East Lansing with a 114-57 record.

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