Michigan State announces publicly that it is investigating the allegation, and that three football players and a football staff member have been suspended as a result of that investigation. It also announces that it has launched a Title IX investigation into the allegation and an investigation by a private law firm into the football program and its compliance with university policy.
“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,” Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said in a statement.
Mark Hollis, who in addition to his role as Michigan State’s athletic director is also the chairman of the NCAA men’s basketball committee in 2016-17, cancels a planned trip to focus on issues on campus.
Hollis had planned to spend 12 days on the road to see a host of college basketball games in anticipation of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, but canceled the trip days beforehand.
The move is seen as a result not only of the investigation into the football program but also due to the investigation into former MSU doctor Larry Nassar. Hollis suspended gymnastics coach Kathie Klages days later.
On the same day the news of Hollis’ canceled trip became public, Spartans coach Tom Izzo was asked about his faith in Michigan State’s leadership given recent events. He responded unequivocally.
“I have absolute, positive, complete faith in my president, AD and coaches that are going through things,” Izzo said. “That’s all I can do. I have faith in them and I support them. I wouldn’t support them if I didn’t have faith in them.”
Izzo didnt’ comment on any specifics of investigations, but offered the voice of Michigan State’s most well-known public figure in defense of president Lou Anna K. Simon, Hollis and Mark Dantonio.
“I know what we do here,” Izzo said. “I know what our coaches do here. I know what our president stands for. And that didn’t change when I got here 30 years ago and it’s probably not changing when I’m dead.”
Michigan State confirms that football staffer Curtis Blackwell has been suspended with pay from his duties. The school did not confirm that Blackwell is the staff member suspended while the sexual assault investigation is ongoing, or provide any other details on his suspension, including its start date.
Blackwell, hired by the school in 2013, heads Michigan State’s recruiting efforts and serves as a mentor to players on campus.
MSU Police submit four warrant requests to the Ingham County Prosecutors’ office related to the sexual assault investigation. Three of those requests are for sexual assault, and a fourth is for a non-sexual crime.
Prosecutor Carol Siemon announced later that day that her office had asked MSU Police to continue investigation and submit additional information before making a decision on the warrant requests.