Questions have surrounded Tom Izzo and the Michigan State basketball program since ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported a series of alleged incidents with former player and student assistant coach Travis Walton.
On Tuesday, Walton issued a full-throated defense to those allegations and denied any of the reporting to be truthful.
He started out noting that he was never a paid assistant coach, and then went on to refute both the allegations of punching a woman at an East Lansing bar and sexual assault in two separate alleged incidents.
“I was never hired or fired by Michigan State University. In January of 2010, I was enrolled at Michigan State University, taking the necessary classes to complete my degree. Upon graduation, I returned to Europe to continue my basketball career.”
He is currently a member of the coaching staff for the Los Angeles Clippers’ G-League team and a former guard for the program from 2005-09.
Walton stands by his statements and made it clear he would defend himself against these accusations being reported as fact.
“I stand by these facts, and will defend myself to the extent that the law allows,” Walton said in a letter provided to the Free Press. “I apologize for the negative attention this has brought my Spartan family, the Clippers organization, and my family and friends.”
Walton had plenty of problems with ESPN’s Outside the Lines report, starting with his employment status up front.
He then went in to a full-throated defense of himself against the pair of accusations.
“I never physically assaulted a woman at an East Lansing establishment, as alleged,” he said in the letter. “While conversing with her, and without notice or provocation, she threw a drink at me, and I subsequently left the establishment. Two written statements from independent, objective witnesses were given to the City Attorney, and support my innocence. Ultimately, the determination to resolve the case was based on the merits of the investigation.”
Walton doesn’t hide from having a sexual relationship with the unnamed woman in ESPN’s report, but insists it was a consensual and multiple-time relationship between the two.
” I have never been charged with sexual assault and, to my knowledge, the alleged sexual assault was never reported to Michigan State University or the police. My encounters with this woman were more than just a single occasion, and my actions with her were always consensual.”
ESPN’s allegations were certainly a bombshell, but as they say, there is always two sides to the story. In this case, Walton is about as clear as can be on his side of what happened in both cases.
Will that matter against a running narrative of a Michigan State program out of control? We’ve asked the question of whether Izzo is the man to lead this program through a dark time given the allegations in said ESPN report.
Now we have to ask where the truth lies and just how damaged Izzo really is? If Walton’s side is 100 percent correct, Izzo has nothing to worry about.
Let’s see what independent investigations uncover, and judge then.