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Magic Johnson calls for MSU officials to be held accountable

January 29, 2018
Men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo, left, laughs with former MSU basketball player Magic Johnson before the game against Indiana on Feb. 19, 2013, at Breslin Center.
Men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo, left, laughs with former MSU basketball player Magic Johnson before the game against Indiana on Feb. 19, 2013, at Breslin Center. —
Photo by State News File Photo | The State News

Amid multiple scandals than involve his alma mater, former MSU basketball star and Hall of Fame player Earvin "Magic" Johnson called for the accountability of university officials Monday.

This comes the week after former president Lou Anna K. Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis stepped down from their positions, and an investigative report from "Outside The Lines" suggests a pervasive culture of sexual violence among football and men's basketball players.

Johnson, the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers and partial owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, took to Twitter to give his opinion.

"If anyone was aware of the sexual assault happening to women on the MSU campus from the office of the President, Board of Trustees, athletic department, faculty & campus police, and didn’t say or do anything about it, they should be fired," he said in the first of four tweets.

OTL reported two incidents of alleged sexual assaults that involved members of the MSU basketball team, both of which occurred in 2010. The first incident alleges former MSU player and assistant coach Travis Walton took part in a gang rape with other MSU players. The alleged victim told OTL she did not file a police report, but informed Hollis about the incident. 

The other alleged incident involved MSU basketball stars Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, who were believed to have raped another woman. That woman filed a police report, but charges were never filed by Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings.

Dunnings was arrested in March 2016 and was jailed on charges for soliciting a prostitute.

The OTL report also alleges 16 MSU football players have taken part in sexual assaults or violence against women, all since 2007, when coach Mark Dantonio took over as coach in 2007. The report alleges Dantonio personally investigated one incident.

"That's absolutely false," Dantonio said Friday in a press conference. "Every incident reported in that article was documented by either police or the Michigan State Title IX office. I've always worked with the proper authorities with dealing with the cases of sexual assault. We've always had higher standards in this program and that will never change."

Head men's basketball coach Tom Izzo also denied any mishandling of sexual assaults brought to his attention.

"We will cooperate with any investigation going forward, as we have always done,” Izzo said Friday. 

Izzo, a Hall of Fame coach, also refused to talk about Appling or Payne. He briefly spoke about Walton on Sunday, when he acknowledged Walton left coaching at MSU to play professionally in Europe.

Appling is currently serving a year in jail on a gun charge. Payne's two-way contract with the Orlando Magic was waived on Friday. Walton, an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers' G-League affiliate, was also placed on administrative leave Friday.

Both Izzo and Dantonio insist they have no plans to retire.

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