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Report Of Sexual Assault Accusation Continues Rough Month For Michigan State Athletics (UPDATE)
The independent Michigan Messenger made some waves yesterday when it reported that two Michigan State basketball players were accused of sexual assault for an on-campus incident last month. Charges haven’t been filed, but this is the third bit of bad legal news to come out of the MSU athletic department in the last month, and questions surrounding this latest report likely won’t go away easily.
UPDATE: The Michigan Messenger released the police report today, with the names and heights of the accused players blacked out. We’ve embedded it below (click the icon to the left of the “download” button in the top right corner for a full screen view).
H/T to Deadspin on the posted police report
The rest of the original post is below.
The first bit of bad news hit in late August, when Korie Lucious, a guard for the basketball team, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. The charge was later reduced to reckless driving, to which Lucious pleaded guilty.
Then, earlier this month, Dion Sims, a tight end on Michigan State’s football team, was charged with participating in a laptop theft ring that stole over 100 computers. Sims who briefly also played for MSU’s basketball team, is now serving an indefinite suspension.
When it was just these two wildly different incidents in two different sports, they each appeared isolated. But the sexual assault issues that came to light yesterday will make a lot of people take a hard look at the university’s athletics program.
The details from the police report included in the Messenger’s story are not pleasant, and the revelation that MSU police actually recommended charges be filed – only for that recommendation to fall on deaf ears – is an eyebrow-raiser.
MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo declined to comment on the matter yesterday, but he’ll have to say something about this this eventually. Izzo is the recipient of much-deserved praise for building a model basketball program and being a more down-to-earth person than your average basketball coach, but that’s not going to be enough in this case.
We don’t think Michigan State has a USC/UNC-type situation on its hands, but all these legal issues are not good for the athletic department there, or the university as a whole. And the latest, as the most mysterious (the names of the accused are unreleased) and disturbing issue yet, will likely bring the most bad press along with it.
And that means it won’t be enough for Izzo to be his usual self. He has to go above and beyond in dealing with this, because unfortunately, it seems that’s just what his players haven’t done in the way they conduct themselves. Lucious’ charges and the Messenger’s report give the appearance of a pattern of misbehavior in the program – a perception Izzo can’t afford.
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