Izzo mum on sex assault allegations against players

Tom Izzo
Tom Izzo, the head coach of Michigan State basketball, holds a press conference in East Lansing Jan. 31, 2018.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo stuck to the script at a press conference Wednesday night, expressing sympathy for sexual assault survivors but refusing to comment on accusations involving his players.

Recent ESPN reports described a culture of keeping sexual assault allegations involving MSU athletes under wraps. One report noted three basketball players — Keith Appling, Adreian Payne and Travis Walton — have been accused of sexual assault or violence against women.

After the Spartans’ Wednesday home game against Penn State — which they won — Izzo started his press conference by drawing reporters’ attention to teal ribbons that players wanted to wear to show solidarity with sexual assault victims.

“It was led by the players to acknowledge the social inequities that we have,” Izzo, who also wore a ribbon on his lapel, said.

But when asked about the way a 2010 assault and sexual misconduct case against Walton was handled, Izzo was tight-lipped.

“I have great respect for the media … and you have the right to ask. Unfortunately, I have no additional comments. I’ve given my comments. I have no additional ones,” he said.

He repeated the line he used in a Sunday press conference:

“I will cooperate with the investigation as I always have with any investigation,” he said. “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

Also asked about former MSU and USA Gymnastics sports doctor Larry Nassar, whose sexual assault case sparked ESPN’s investigation, and a 2010 rape case against Appling and Payne, Izzo said now is not the time for comment, but did not rule out saying more later.

“There will be a time when I’ll be able to speak, but it isn’t right now,” he said. “There’s too many things going on with the survivors and everything.”