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Tom Izzo breaks silence on sexual assault cover-up allegations: 'Don't regret anything'  4 Months ago

Source:   USA Today  

Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo sounded off to a gathering of reporters at Big Ten basketball media day on Thursday, especially about the allegations against his program in the past 10 months.

Izzo continually said he would not “rehash” the past few months and decades-old allegations. However, he respectfully — sometimes contritely, sometimes emotionally, sometimes defiantly — continued to address topics he said Thursday that he was told not to talk about in the winter.

Here is more of what he had to say:

On if he had any regrets or could change anything that happened since January: “No. See, I don’t regret anything except I couldn’t talk. And it’s easy to say, ‘Well, you could have talked.’ I couldn’t talk. I wasn’t winning that battle, there was no battle to win. The one time I did, I said the same thing that I said four months later, and now I’ve said after the NCAA investigation. It was all the same.”

On how sexual assault against college athletes around the country will be handled in the future: “Do I wish it could be different? Yes, I wish it could be different. Would I have done stuff different? Everybody will do stuff different now. Every kid is gonna be suspended now, I think, on accusations. And that seems good, unless it’s your kid. And if it’s your kid, you’re gonna look at it a little differently. Now if it’s something somebody did wrong, then we’re gonna deal with it in the appropriate way, which we have.”

On whether or not to take the decision of suspending college athletes alleged of crimes out of coaches’ hands: “I think that’s a great question. Here’s what I would ask you, though. When a certain incident is investigated by the legal system, by the federal system, by attorneys — if certain issues are investigated by those people, who would you put in charge of that if it was your son? Who would you want in charge of that? I agree, I’d be happy if it wasn’t me. I mean, I would do whatever they told me, just like I did whatever the procedures and policies that were in place told me. Who would you put in there?”

On who handles such allegations are currently being handled: “I hate to say it, I think they’re up to the court of public opinion now. I think that has already been decided. I mean, do you watch the ticker on any network? There are more football players suspended than Carter’s got liver pills. I think everybody, I think you’re gonna be suspended.”

On what would help this year’s team: “I’ll tell you what will make this year more fun – if I go through a year without distractions. That’ll make it more fun. It will make it more fun because I did love that team, I had fun with that team. It wasn’t the team that made it no fun, it was the situation. And it wasn’t anybody’s fault. It was just, what happened happened. And it was trying to dealt the best we could.”

On what he feels hearing about sexual assault allegations involving his players: “It saddens me. I mean, it bothers me. I think I have proved every day that I stuck up for the survivors. I talked to some survivors. I talked to some parents of survivors. I’ve got a daughter, too. I’ve got a son, too. This stuff bothers me every day. Our society needs a gut-check. Our society needs some accountability. But that’s accountable in everything – what you say and what you do. So it shouldn’t just be what you do, it’s also what you say.”

On being followed down the hallway at Maryland by an ESPN camera and reporter being asked about Walton: “Did anyone look at my face? Do you believe in body language? I looked at him (sports information director Matt Larson) and I was ready to kill him. Like, ‘Where did this come from? What’s this all about?’ I had no clue. It took me three days to call people, just to try and figure it out. So your people are better than mine, I have no problem saying that. But I never did until the facts came out. Is that my fault? Why am I held to that? I just don’t understand that.”

On ESPN and Larry Nassar: “Everything that was done by us, this thing about hidden secrets, that picture, will go down as the worst thing that ever happened to Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio. That picture, which was completely uncalled for, had nothing to do with anything. Didn’t know the guy, didn’t deal with the guy. What more can I say?”

On if he talked to NCAA about the allegations: “I’m not rehashing what I went into. Did I talk to the NCAA? They covered every single thing thoroughly. So did the police, so did the prosecutor, so did the federal government and so did the law firm that was hired a long time ago.”

On the perception surround his program this summer: “It’s hard. When you went through something like we went through, there’s always gonna be different perceptions. And that’s part of my job now. All these things double the work I have to do, and that’s OK. That’s what I’ve kind of come to grips with, that I’ve kind of embraced. I want to make this the greatest place, I want to make this better, I want to make it better. I hope the day comes when a lot of the survivors that are Michigan State grads come back. That’s what I’d like to see. I’d like to see a big picture of things happening and get better at. It’s never gonna be OK with me what happened. I think one of the ways to honor somebody is to try and change things to make it better, that they had an impact. I hope when I leave, my legacy, is that there was an impact that I left on Michigan State.”

On his legacy: “I feel like I’ve given this place — you know what this place means? It doesn’t mean Michigan State. It’s college basketball, our society. I feel I’ve given it as much as I can give it — for kids, for young kids, for charities, for everything. I am not apologizing for how I acted, how I treated people. I have the utmost confidence in myself that I’m not perfect, but nobody is. But on a daily basis, the thought — the thought — that I was gonna hide something like what happened makes me sick. The thought of that makes me sick. It’s never been hidden, it never was. That was the big complaint on me and Dantonio and (former athletic director Mark) Hollis. And it never was hidden, and it never will be hidden. And that’s where I’m ending it.”

***

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