Hoops notes: Izzo 'actually moved' by team, student support for sex assault survivors
Tom Izzo has celebrated one social movement with his team, now the Spartans are celebrating another.
All season long, MSU has worn black T-shirts with block white text that read, “We Talk, We Listen” across the front and “It’s Not About Me, It’s About Us” on the back to silently protest current social inequalities and, as Izzo said during MSU’s media day, “inspire others to have conversations.”
The No. 5 Spartans hung up those shirts prior to their 76-68 win against Penn State on Wednesday night. Instead, they pinned teal ribbons to their warm-up suits for the survivors of sexual abuse from ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar has been convicted sexually abusing more than 140 girls and women under the guise of medical treatment.
The team missed the memo last Friday at the Breslin Center, when the lower bowl of the IZZONE all wore teal shirts during the team’s 76-61 win against Wisconsin. Sophomore point guard Cassius Winston said these pins will stay with the team all season, as a chance to make up for the university’s wrongdoing.
“We kind of missed that opportunity to show that we support, and our heart goes out to the survivors,” Winston said. “This is our chance to show that we do care. And we’re also reaching out to them.”
It’s unclear if the “We Talk, We Listen” shirts are officially retired by the team, but Winston was adamant the message the shirts portray will never die.
“We had our ‘We Talk, We Listen’ shirts, which we still stand behind, for sure,” Winston said. “We definitely still stand behind that, but different situations came up. Different things out of our control came up, but it’s another situation we can stand for.“
Izzo said he wanted to thank the fans for helping start the movement on campus, because he’s proud of the response the Spartans have shown.
“I was amazed how impressed Cassius Winston, Miles (Bridges), Tum (Nairn Jr.), some of those guys were,” Izzo said. “I was actually moved by how powerful it showed our support for the survivors. And those guys talked about wanting to be a part of it.”
Since Nassar’s conviction, Izzo said he’s wanted to be a part of the healing process in any capacity. When asked if he’d let survivors of Nassar’s abuse meet the team, he said, “we’re open to doing anything that helps the healing process to be honest with you. And, but yet there’s so many things that have to take place before that. You know, whatever they need, we’ll do.”
For the remainder of the season, Winston said the Spartans will dedicate their effort on the floor to the survivors, so they can unite students back to the university.
“I feel like the university is looking for a positive light,” Winston said. “That’s just the situation we’re in right now. What better way than the platform we’re on? We’re not just playing for ourselves right now, we’re playing for the survivors, we’re playing for the university, we’re playing for the students of the school.”
Time and place: Though Izzo said his team will do anything to accommodate the survivors of Nassar’s abuse, he declined to comment on any issue regarding ESPN’s investigative report, suggesting a culture of sexual assault and violence is prevalent among MSU athletics.
He was asked if he believed in the statement made by former player and coach Travis Walton, who denied allegations of punching a woman in an East Lansing bar in January 2010 and participating in a gang rape months later.
Izzo also wouldn’t answer if he was receiving any legal counsel, but said he has, and will, cooperate with any investigation into his program.
“I think that there will be a time when I get to speak, but it isn’t right now,” Izzo said. “There’s too many things going on and, with the survivors and everything, so I’m going to just stick to my guns and tell you that I still have great support for the survivors, but I’m just not going to have any comment on this whole situation.”