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Report: Tom Izzo, men’s basketball implicated in coverup of sexual misconduct at Michigan State

Big Ten Basketball Media Day

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 19: Michigan State Men’s Basketball Head Coach Tom Izzo speaks at the 2017 Big Ten Basketball Media Day at Madison Square Garden on October 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

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We now know why Mark Hollis resigned as Michigan State’s Athletic Director on Friday morning.

Just a few hours after Hollis completed a press conference in East Lansing announcing that he would be stepping down from his role at the top of the athletic department, ESPN dropped a bombshell report detailing a “pattern of widespread denial, inaction and information suppression” of sexual violence allegations involving not just Larry Nassar but the football and men’s basketball programs as well.

The problems go beyond simply playing players that have been accused of violence and sexual misconduct.

The Athletic Department actively tried to suppress the information and allowed coaches, as opposed to administrators of Title IX investigators, to handle the punishments.

This quote is one of the most damning from the story:

“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,” said former Michigan State sexual assault counselor Lauren Allswede, who left the university after seven years over the way they handled these investigations. “It was all happening behind closed doors. ... None of it was transparent or included people who would normally be involved in certain decisions.”

The details of the report are much more damning for the football program and head coach Mark D’Antonio, but Tom Izzo and the basketball program certainly do not come off looking good. The specific allegations involving the men’s basketball team date back to 2010 and 2011. In 2010, former player Travis Walton, who was then a graduate assistant with the program, was accused of knocking out a woman in a bar after hitting her twice in the head. He was allowed to travel to the Final Four with the team that season.

That allegedly occurred in Feb. of 2010. By April, the charges had been reduced after Walton found two witnesses of his own to contradict the victim’s account, but in that same month he was accused, along with two other unnamed players, of raping a woman off-campus. The parent’s of that accuser came forward because she had heard the players had tried to assault another woman, and that they were not going to be punished by the university.

Then in the fall of that year, before the start of the season, then-freshmen Adreian Payne and Keith Appling were accused by a student of sexual assault. It was investigated by police -- Payne was even brought in for questioning -- but no charges were filed in that case. The victim eventually brought legal action against the school as a result.

Michigan State released this statement: “Over the past several years, we have dedicated significant new resources to strengthening our efforts to combat sexual violence. Every day, people across campus are working diligently on this critical issue. We acknowledge, however, that we have sometimes fallen short of our goal and the expectations of others. It is clear more needs to be done, and we are using every resource available to get better.”