Monday, October 3, 2022

Letter: Tom Izzo needs to be held accountable

By Van Kalbach

Kalbach graduated from Michigan State in 2001, and received his Ph.D in 2018.

Editor's note: This is a letter to the editor, which is not endorsed by The State News editorial board.

We’ve got a new problem at MSU. Some of the conversation around the controversial behavior of (men's basketball coach) Tom Izzo going postal at the NCAA Round 1 game seems to be largely missing the point. Do we accept Izzo’s justification that his “corrective” haranguing achieved improved results on the court? The matter is, MSU is, and needs to be, better than this, even if Izzo cannot manage his on-court emotions.

With all the negative publicity the university has had in the past two years, we can ill afford on the national stage to have our public face be Izzo twice close to physically going after a younger player thrust into a difficult substitution for a regular starter. When Tom Izzo scoffs at any criticism and some join him in excusing such egregious behavior at the NCAA tournament, it makes what this represents of our university even worse. The notion that in order to be privileged to play for a leader like him, you must be prepared, even once, to sacrifice your self-respect is ludicrous.

Mr. Izzo couches his justification for this most recent incident in terms of the demands and responsibilities his players assume in being part of an elite basketball program with national prominence. Has he forgotten his own responsibilities representing our university’s image on the big stage? With deference to Charles Barkley and other apologists for Izzo, including past and present players, MSU does not need this image of a coach (or authority figures of other descriptions) hazing students.

We’re trying, while respecting the collective pride of fandom, to collectively restore the MSU brand, which must be that of showing all our students that they are valued and that they matter. Tom Izzo’s flop, and lack of even slight awareness of what he posted up about MSU, shows that he needs to be held accountable, like he says he wants his players to be.

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