Tom Izzo was one of the principle subjects of an ESPN "Outside the Lines" investigation into allegations of crimes against women on Michigan State’s campus.
The network, which published a lengthy story online Friday and aired an "E: 60" special Sunday morning, requested comments from Izzo, football coach Mark Dantonio and athletic director Mark Hollis earlier this week but were denied. Holils resigned Friday.
The ESPN story that ran Friday involved two alleged sexual assaults, naming Keith Appling and Adreian Payne in one incident and Travis Walton and two unnamed former players in a second. Both are alleged to have occurred in 2010. ESPN also reported Walton allegedly hit a woman at an East Lansing bar in the face and gave her a concussion, eventually getting his assault and battery charges dropped and receiving a littering fine instead.
ESPN reporter Dan Murphy was at Breslin Center on Friday night for the Spartans’ basketball win over Wisconsin and asked Izzo questions. Dantonio also spoke before that game but did not take any ESPN questions among the two he answered.
On Sunday, Washington-based ESPN investigative reporter Tisha Thompson was at XFinity Center to further question Izzo. Here are their exchanges.
Thompson: “Coach, Tisha Thompson, Outside The Lines. In 2010, Travis Walton was charged with assault and battery for punching a female student in the face. There were witnesses, she was injured. Why was he allowed to continue with the coaching staff and be with the team while charges were pending?”
Izzo: “Well, as I said before, we’ll cooperate with any investigation and always have. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it moving forward. That’s about all I’m going to say on it. We did cooperate with everything.”
Jan 28, 2018; College Park, MD, USA; Michigan State guard Cassius Winston defended by Maryland guard Bruno Fernando at XFINITY Center. Mitch Stringer, USA TODAY Sports
Thompson: “We want to give you every opportunity to answer questions. There’s a lot of questions. A big one is why did Travis leave the program in 2010?”
Izzo: “I don’t know what you mean. He graduated.”
Thompson: “He was with your staff throughout 2010. An allegation came forward later that year from a woman and her family to the athletic department that he and two other players raped her. He then left the program later that year in 2010. Why?”
Izzo: “To be honest with you, I don’t know why he left. I know he went to Europe to play. As you know, I’ll still say I’ll cooperate with any investigation that’s made. I did it then, I did it before. And I’m not going to answer any questions that aren’t pertaining to either basketball basketball or things I’m not going to talk about now."
Thompson: “Let me ask you this question then. Looking back at the way sexual assault allegations have been handled by your basketball program, do you have any regrets?”
Izzo: “I’ve cooperated with every investigation. Every one. And I will continue to cooperate with every investigation. Every one.”
The exchange continued later with one more question and response in the press conference.
Thompson: “What do you tell (players) when it comes to conducting themselves with women?”
Izzo: “There’s a good question. And I tell them every day. At the end of every practice, in the huddle, I go over an academic thing, a couple social things and a basketball things. That takes place every single day and it takes place after every single game and every single trip."
Thompson and a camera followed Izzo into the hallway and back to the MSU coaches’ locker room, continuing to ask him questions as they walked with a security escort just behind them. The reporter on Twitter chronicled the exchange.
Izzo: “I spoke, I spoke politely, and I spoke to you and I'm sticking with my message. And there maybe will come a time when I can do more. It won't be right now.”
Thompson: “Did the Athletic Department forward the allegations against Travis Walton to the Title IX Office?"
Izzo: “I stick with what I said to you. I'm not going good to answer any questions that are different than the ones I answered. I'm going to worry about the survivors, and that's what I'm going to stick with right now.”
Thompson: “You understand folks have a lot of questions.”
Izzo: “Yeah, probably.”
Thompson: “You're not giving many answers.”
Izzo: “Nope, not gonna right now. Sorry.”
Izzo then shook Thompson’s hand and walked into the locker room.
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