Tom Izzo said many times that he’d talk about allegations regarding sexual assault related to his program “when the time is right.” He still hasn’t done so.
Midnight Madness is right around the corner.
The disappointing end to the 2017/2018 Michigan State basketball season shouldn’t tarnish what was an otherwise great season.
With the 2018/2019 season approaching, there are questions about how Tom Izzo loads up again and begins yet another chase for what has been an elusive second national title during his brilliant career as Michigan State’s Hall of Fame coach.
But the biggest questions regarding Izzo’s program linger from the subject matter that won’t seem to leave Michigan State University alone until it’s been fully, completely, and appropriately addressed.
As I’ve done any time I’ve addressed this topic – and I’ve addressed the topic multiple times
And here –
……I’ll start with the customary and genuine disclaimer:
Tom Izzo has done more for Michigan State University that just about anyone who has ever been a part of the university and just about anyone who currently is a part of the university.
Forget, for a moment, his achievements as the leader of the Spartan basketball program – his financial contributions to the university speak to his generosity, his dedication to the place that will always be home to him and his family, and the way he doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.
The Final Fours, the Big Ten Championships, the National Championship he won in 2000 – those tangible accomplishments are representative of how Izzo has the bona fides that stack up with most basketball legends whose names are iconic across the sport.
Nobody will ever out-work Tom Izzo.
Nobody will ever out-grit Tom Izzo.
And very few people through the annals of college basketball have ever worn their heart on their sleeve in the admirably authentic way that Izzo has and does.
And with all of that having been said (and there is so much more that could be added), it’s a very hard thing to say but it’s true:
Tom Izzo owes the entire Michigan State University community answers and perspective and information related to the allegations levied against his basketball program related to sexual assault.
On multiple occasions, Izzo has said – with more than a hint of defiance – that he’ll address everything “when the time is right.”
He still hasn’t.
Of course – the allegations and the reports that have been made could all be untrue, incomplete, exaggerated, not fully vetted, or fabricated.
Of course – the recent announcement made by the NCAA that it found no reasons to believe that Michigan State University has mishandled any sexual assault allegations improperly should make Spartans breathe a little more easily.
However, and with all due respect to the NCAA which many people are right to be cynical about in terms of credibility and logic, Tom Izzo has not, at any point, spoken fully and directly to the Michigan State University community about any of the allegations made against his program in this regard.
In the immediate aftermath of the Larry Nassar crimes being alleged (and, of course, eventually, substantiated) and the infamous ESPN “Outside The Lines” reporting, Mark Dantonio stood up in front of the Michigan State community and addressed the allegations directly and forcefully.
Dantonio’s transparency also came almost a year after he spoke to the Michigan State community in the Spring of 2017 about how his program has handled sexual assault allegations after several players of his were dismissed from the football program due to allegations related to sexual assault.
Izzo, in the meantime, struggled to find his words as he was asked reasonable questions from reporters searching for answers to allegations about players in his program sexually assaulting women on campus that were – and still are – disturbing.
This isn’t meant to compare the two leaders necessarily – it’s, perhaps, a way to demonstrate that addressing the Spartan Nation about this very difficult topic can be done and that most Spartans appreciate and respect Dantonio even more since he spoke with the community in the way he did and continues to do so.
Izzo can and should do the same thing.
One of the things that’s especially disappointing and frustrating for some Spartans who want very badly to be able to fully move forward from what has been a tragic and horrific chapter in the university’s history is that Izzo’s struggles with his answers to the fair questions that have been asked of him are so out of character for a man who has demonstrated for more than 30 years that he’s never been afraid to face some music when he might not like it.
One thing nobody can ever critique Izzo for is a lack of transparency or a lack of authenticity.
However, when it’s come to this issue, he’s shown very little of either.
Many Spartans may believe that the recent announcement from the NCAA suggests that the athletic department and its programs are “in the clear.”
That’s a fair perspective.
However, there is another perspective that might be worth consideration.
The leadership – in this case, Izzo – should stand up before the community and speak transparently and authentically about how the program(s) is/are being led with nothing but the highest standards of integrity.
The leadership – in this case, Izzo – should stand up and answer questions related to how sexual assault allegations were and are, indeed, handled.
The leadership – in this case, Izzo – should stand up and tell Spartans how the entire topic of sexual assault is handled on a regular basis within the program.
It would seem that with the NCAA’s announcement, this all would be even easier to do than it might have been earlier this year.
And with this past week’s most recent allegations that Larry Nassar raped and impregnated a women’s field hockey player in 1992 and that George Perles, then the athletic director and head football coach, was less than pure in the way he handled the situation at the time (emphasis on all of this being nothing more than allegations at this point), it seems like a perfect time for Spartans to be reassured that their institution has nothing to hide.
And who better to stand up and let it be known that there isn’t anything to hide – and that there is everything to be proud of – than Tom Izzo?
He has not done this.
He needs to.
It’s a vital step for not just him and his basketball program – it’s a vital step in the ongoing process that is slowly allowing Michigan State to continue to work through this entire tragic period for the institution and all loyal Spartans.