Izzo not discussing 'OTL' report, 'definitely' won't retire
When Tom Izzo approached the podium at the Breslin Center Friday night, he just wanted to talk about basketball.
He didn’t want to discuss the retirement of close friend and athletic director Mark Hollis, or the investigative report from 'Outside The Lines' suggesting he allowed former players who committed sexual assault to play without punishment. He just wanted to discuss sixth-ranked MSU’s 76-61 win against Wisconsin.
Izzo, however, did talk about his future with the university.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Izzo, a Hall of Fame coach, said. “I’m definitely not retiring. There’s a lot of things that happened today that are a part of life. I’m going to worry about my team, I’m going to worry about the survivors.”
Izzo was the second MSU coach to say he was staying put after OTL released its report. Football coach Mark Dantonio also affirmed at the Breslin Center, prior to the basketball game, he would not retire. The OTL report detailed sexual assaults committed by 16 MSU football players and stated Dantonio handled an investigation himself.
“That is absolutely false,” Dantonio said. ”I'm here for Spartan nation, here for our football program and for my family."
The OTL report, which was released hours before the game Friday, stated former MSU basketball player and coach Travis Walton assaulted a woman at an East Lansing Bar and allegedly took part in a gang rape of another woman. That incident was never reported to police, but the report states the woman told Hollis.
It also reported an alleged sexual assault involving former MSU basketball players Adreian Payne and Keith Appling. Police was made aware of that incident, but charges were never filed by the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office.
Payne was waived of his two-way contract with the Orlando Magic on Friday.
“I’m not going to answer any questions concerning that,” Izzo said. “I’m going to stick to worrying about the survivors. I’m going to try and do my part and helping them heal. … As far as the reports today we will cooperate with any investigation going forward, as we have always done.”
Izzo said he was aware OTL published the report, but did not have a chance to read its entirety prior to the game’s tipoff.
“I’ve seen the report, it came out a little late for me,” he said. “It’s been an interesting two days with the things that have gone on and still trying to prepare for a game. I’ll hold judgement on that until I really get a chance to sit down and look at everything.”
Sophomore point guard Cassius Winston said he saw rumors before the game Friday Izzo may consider retirement.
“I saw that somewhere, but I didn’t really buy into that one,” Winston said. “Coach Izzo, he’s one of us. We’re in this together.”
Other players couldn’t believe the speculation.
“Honestly to hear that I was shocked and relieved all at the same time,” freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. said. “Coach — I love coach. He’s not going anywhere.”
Izzo caught flak last week for comments he made after last week’s win against Indiana, trying to offer support for the survivors of ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse, saying he hoped the right person was caught.
“I hope that I’m a big part of the healing process for them and our campus community,” he said. “That’s what I hope I can do here since I’ve been here longer than anybody.”
Izzo said it was “awesome” that members of the IZZONE wore teal on Friday to support the survivors of Nassar, and Winston said had the team known, they would have also done something similar.
“I wish we would have knew something about it, but we didn’t really know much about that,” Winston said. “They did a great job with their energy today, supporting us, supporting coach Izzo and everything. I definitely think we would have wore teal warm-ups, or anything, because our hearts go out to the survivors.”