Friday, February 28, 2020

What you need to know about Dantonio's involvement in lawsuits, sexual assault cases

February 4, 2020
<p>Head coach Mark Dantonio walks out of the tunnel with the team before the game against Central Michigan on Sept. 29, 2018 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Chippewas, 31-20.</p>

Head coach Mark Dantonio walks out of the tunnel with the team before the game against Central Michigan on Sept. 29, 2018 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Chippewas, 31-20.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio resigned from his position Tuesday in an announcement on Twitter. He will continue on in an unspecified role in the athletic department, for which he will be compensated $1 million for a term of one year.

While the announcement was sudden, Dantonio has had a turbulent time as coach since he led the Spartans to the College Football Playoff (CFP) in 2015. From the up-and-down play of the football team to the legal troubles that have surrounded the team, Dantonio has had a rough time since the high of 2015.

February 2017: Three MSU football players — Josh King, Donnie Corley and Demetric Vance — were suspended from the team pending a sexual assault investigation.

April 2017: The Ingham County Prosecutor's Office filed a charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct against MSU football player Auston Robertson. Robertson was removed from the football team following this charge. This charge was unrelated to the charges against King, Corley and Vance, and also unrelated to the charges Robertson was facing during his recruitment – misdemeanor battery charges.

Dantonio made a statement after the charge was filed in which he said, "Due to the charges he was facing during his recruitment, we took precaution in allowing Auston to be a part of our football program. ... Despite these measures, Auston broke our trust and expectations by putting himself in a compromising situation."

June 2018: King, Corley and Vance accepted a plea deal to 36 months of probation and were ordered to receive sex offender treatment at their sentencing by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.

November 2018: Former MSU football staffer Curtis Blackwell sued Dantonio, alleging that he was unjustly fired from the program after his involvement in the case of King, Corley and Vance. Blackwell was suspended with pay in connection to the case and his contract was allowed to expire, despite not being charged with a crime. The suit claimed the university was "eager to prove they were tough on cover-ups" in the wake of Larry Nassar's crimes. Blackwell claimed in the suit that he limited his questioning of the players to "whether they got into any trouble at the party."

December 2018: Auston Robertson pleaded guilty to one count of assault with intent to commit criminal sexual penetration in Ingham County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 43-120 months with credit of 247 days served. He was also required to register as a sex offender.

October 2019: In the midst of a second consecutive 7-6 season — one that turned out to be his last — Dantonio was ordered by a federal judge to be deposed as part of Blackwell's lawsuit. Blackwell alleged that Dantonio ignored multiple warnings from staffers to not recruit the troubled Robertson, who had been accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct going back to age 12. Dantonio sat for a five-plus hour deposition in January 2020.

Today: The Detroit News reported hours before Dantonio's resignation that Blackwell's lawyers have alleged that Dantonio committed multiple NCAA violations.

The case accuses Dantonio of orchestrating employment for the parents of MSU football players and having Blackwell accompany him on a home visit while Blackwell wasn't authorized to conduct off-campus visits. Dantonio's lawyers call Blackwell's allegations false.

Dantonio said during his Tuesday night press conference that the lawsuit had "zero" impact on his decision to retire, citing instead the need to live a more balanced life rather than work a 365-day job.

This is a developing story. For more news on Dantonio and his retirement, stay with The State News online and in print. For more updates, follow The State News on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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