Listen, we knew this was going to happen. The fallout of Larry Nassar was never going to be easy, smooth, or quick. Michigan State University was always going to be under a microscope, and it was always going to be investigated. And it should. Michigan State deserves every single degree of the heat being directed at them. Lou Anna K. Simon deserved to lose her job (despite the ridiculous perks retiring comes with). Mark Hollis, after spending nearly five months hiding under his desk, deserved to lose his job, even if stepping down was an act of cowardice. Larry Nassar deserves to spend every single second remaining in his tired, miserable, worthless, pathetic existence rotting away in a cell. Every beating Nassar receives in prison will have been earned, and it likely will not match the pain he deserves to bear.
With all of that said, Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio have been left hanging out to dry, in front of a Spartan flag, the last protectors of the Old Guard. And now, they have come under fire. ESPN’s Outside the Lines report offers a look at many of the acts that have taken place at the university over the years, and aligns itself along the narrative that, well, the entire athletic department at Michigan State is responsible for covering up and mishandling these cases for over a decade. Now, I’m not going to say Michigan State did everything correctly, but the OTL report is interesting in that it almost exclusively highlights old cases, almost all of which were handled in court and publicly addressed. The lone exception, however, is a second assault case involving Travis Walton of the basketball program.
While Dantonio stood defiant, almost daring the investigation to come after him with it’s full force; Tom Izzo has mouth vomited his way through all of this. Izzo absolutely needs to address this, and strongly. He needs to not avoid the question the way he did in a press conference yesterday. He needs to fully cooperate and help get to the bottom of this. And if Izzo did wrong, he needs to be removed from his position. However, we don’t have that proof. In fact, we have next to none. This report has allowed the court of public opinion to rule a guilty verdict ahead of the trial. We haven’t even selected a jury, and the pitchfork wielding mob is calling for heads to roll. I’m not going to say Izzo, or Dantonio, are innocent of any crime. I don’t know whether they are or aren’t. I do know that we, as a society, have to stop condemning these individuals before we even know if they did anything wrong. It is not guilty until proven innocent. These are careers, and legacies, that are forever tarnished by claims that could still be erroneous.
ESPN has put the cart in front of the horse. They’ve bet the house on their credibility. They better hope they’re right.
Disclaimer: These reflect only the views of Shea Norling