MSU football coach Mark Dantonio denies details of sexual assault scandal report, declines to step down

MSU head coach Mark Dantonio denied reports of his role in covering up sexual misconduct. (AP)

Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio held a brief, defiant news conference on Friday to address an ESPN report detailing a culture of rampant sexual assault under his watch.

Dantonio denied portions of the report, which alleges that at least 16 MSU players were accused of sexual assault or violence against women dating back to 2007, the beginning of his tenure in East Lansing.

“Any accusations of my handling of any complaints of sexual assault individually are completely false,” Dantonio told reporters. “Every incident reported in that article was documented either by police or the Michigan State Title IX office. I’ve always worked with the proper authorities when dealing with sexual assault.”

Dantonio also denied reports that he is planning to resign as MSU’s football coach.

“Absolutely false,” he said.

Michigan State dismissed four players charged with sexual assault in two separate incidents ahead of the 2017 season, a situation Dantonio addressed publicly.

But Friday’s report details that there were several more incidents at the school that never saw public light after being reported internally.

One of those cases, according to the report, was swept under the rug by Dantonio speaking with the accused’s mother about the case. From MSU sexual assault counselor Lauren Allswede, per the ESPN report:

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.

The football scandal in East Lansing is connected to continuing fallout from the Larry Nassar case that saw the former MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor convicted of sexually abusing several young girls over decades before being sentenced to 175 years in prison earlier this week.

MSU athletic director Mark Hollis stepped down on Friday following the resignation of school president Lou Anna K. Simon on Wednesday. Members of the USA Gymnastics board of directors announced earlier Friday that they are all stepping down for their organization’s role in enabling Nassar’s abuse.