Izzo still working on date he will address allegations
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Michigan State coach Tom Izzo stuck to the script again Saturday night.
No, he didn’t talk about the sexual misconduct allegations surrounding his program. Yes, he said he plans to speak out. And he still did not provide a date for when it might happen.
Until then, he intends to focus on doing his job and leading the fifth-ranked Spartans through a long NCAA Tournament run.
“I thought about it and I looked at all the multiple ongoing investigations with which we’ve cooperated with fully,” he said when asked again following a 63-60 victory at Indiana. “I just think it’s inappropriate for me to say anything right now. Our whole focus is really, because I’m trying to keep things on the up and up, our whole focus has been on the healing process for the survivors, the healing process for the university and our community and for me to coach our basketball team. So I don’t have a date. But I will be working on it. The date will come sometime, I promise.”
The scandal, which began with allegations of sexual assault and the subsequent guilty plea of Larry Nassar, a doctor who worked at the university and with USA Gymnastics, has already led to the resignation of university president Lou Anna Simon, the retirement of athletic director Mark Hollis and the appointment of John Engler, a former Republican governor of Michigan, as interim president.
Football coach Mark Dantonio strongly denied other allegations made in an ESPN report, which questioned how the two coaches have dealt with allegations against their players.
Izzo, however, has been relatively muted, citing ongoing investigations.
He’s been pressed for responses after each of the Spartans’ last three games, and players were asked Saturday if the outside distractions are being reflected in Michigan State’s play.
“There’s going to be distractions for the rest of our lives, so we just need to deal with them,” starting forward Miles Bridges said. “We’ve just got to tune out the noise. Just play our game. When we’re playing our game and we’re getting chances and we’re rebounding the ball, that’s our game.”
But around college basketball, administrators know how fast scandals can become the target of derision from student sections.
Indiana went out of its way to assure that didn’t happen Saturday.
When students arrived inside Assembly Hall, they found notes threatening ejection if they heckled Michigan State’s players and coaches.
“This is Indiana. This is our house,” the note read. “This is the loudest, largest and best student section in the country. We are Hoosiers and we respect all of our opponents that take this court. We cheer and chant in a positive manner that does not belittle our opponents with degrading language and behavior. Especially today, our thoughts of support are with the survivors at Michigan State and nothing may be said or done to reference them in a negative way. We have zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior and you will be removed from the game if you do not cooperate.”
Though the game stayed close and the Hoosiers only led once, for 28 seconds, not a word was heard.
And, for that, Izzo started his postgame news conference by thanking everyone at Indiana, including the students and fans, for being respectful of the survivors and his team.
“That was a very classy, whatever they sent out, it was very well done and very much appreciated in handling themselves without some of the things that needed to be said,” Izzo said.