Michigan State Spartans football had a rough season on the field in 2016. The offseason has been perhaps even more brutal for MSU football already.
On Thursday it was announced that three student-athletes were being suspended after allegations of sexual assault were being investigated. According to the MLive.com report, there is also a football staffer who is suspended pending the investigation.
No names have been released at this time, as the players and staffer are merely being investigated at this point in time. Should they be formally charged, we will learn their names.
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis issued a statement regarding the allegations, making it known that investigations like this will be fully cooperated with and actions by student-athletes like the ones alleged will not be tolerated at MSU.
“Sexual assault is unacceptable, and members of MSU Athletics who fail to uphold our standards for creating a culture that is safe, supportive, and responsive to those affected by it will be held accountable,” Hollis said in a statement. “My expectation of all members of the department is full and complete cooperation with all investigations.”
That statement comes on the heels of the university also initiating a Title IX investigation and getting external counsel to look in to how the football program and athletic department handled this situation.
At issue seems to be whether or not staffers on the football program followed university policy regarding this matter.
The statement released puts it like this:
“…to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into football program staff members’ compliance with university policy in connection with the allegations.”
Hollis’ statement also had strong language in regards to the allegations of football staffers maybe not following university protocol regarding this investigation on campus and with the police department.
Members of the Michigan State coaching staff and “other relevant individuals” are being interviewed by investigators, according to the release. The statement notes that “MSU will not tolerate failure to follow established reporting protocols, interference with law enforcement efforts, or lack of cooperation with any Title IX investigation.”
The complaint was filed back in January with the MSU campus police and they are in charge of the investigation. Once the investigation is complete all findings will be forwarded to the country prosecutors office for a final decision on charges or how else to proceed.
Unlike most investigations of this nature, it is remarkable to see the names of the players involved not being leaked and widely known. Given the cases of both sexual assault and false reports, unnecessarily tarnishing someone’s name is the wise way to deal with this.
Additionally, the MSU football program better hope it has been following all policies and procedures as well. If not, an already ugly offseason could get even worse for Mark Dantonio and company.