Experts: MSU scandal hasn’t scared off top recruits

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio and his staff are actively recruiting, and the nation’s top 2019 basketball prospect still intends to take an official visit to Michigan State next month.

Despite Dantonio and basketball coach Tom Izzo coming under fire following an ESPN report last Friday that said both have a history of putting the programs ahead of properly handling sexual assault complaints against their players, Michigan State’s recruiting has not taken any hits.

“It hasn’t negatively affected anything I can see yet,” said Allen Trieu, who handles Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. “There’s got to be some concern, right, but I don’t think concern means, ‘Hey, the sky’s falling.’ The coaching staff has to be cognizant of how it could affect recruiting. It’s also too early what those concerns should be and how much to be worried.

“If you’re a recruit, kids probably have some questions. I’m sure the staff is addressing that with them. The kids I have talked to, it hasn’t come up. Kids are still reporting offers from Michigan State and still planning visits. Guys who have said Michigan State is at the top of their list, still say they’re on top of their list.”

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Vernon Carey, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound power forward from Florida is planning to visit Michigan State on Feb. 10-11. He is the top prospect in the 2019 class.

Brian Snow, 247Sports basketball recruiting analyst, said recruits he has spoken to over the years regarding any problem always have the same question — will the coach still be there.

“All they care about is — will Tom Izzo be there,” Snow said. “The main question the next few months is, ‘Will Izz be there?’ If he’s still there, maybe they take a small short-term hit but I don’t think anything noticeable.”

Izzo and Dantonio made clear last Friday in separate news conferences, hours after athletic director Mark Hollis announced his retirement, they have no intention of resigning.

Still, some recruits likely will ask that question.

“Izz is comfortable saying, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be there,’ but what else is he going to say?” Snow said.

“But everyone in the short term is going to question this because this is all they’re seeing for now. But in this news cycle, you give it a week. That’s the way this society works.”

Dantonio and his staff were out recruiting last week, and they’re out this week.

“As far as I know, nothing has changed as far as those operations,” Trieu said.

Perhaps some recruits will proceed cautiously regarding Michigan State, but Trieu believes it’s too soon to say.

“Some kids may pump the brakes, juniors especially, some underclassmen,” he said. “Some may choose to wait. You have to see what happens when the dust settles.”

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Trieu and the college football world have seen several programs hit hard by NCAA sanctions but still recover. Michigan State is not nearly in that realm, but his point being that programs do survive.

“If you follow the worst situations in college football — and I’m not saying this is on par with that — everyone thought Penn State recruiting would be decimated, and you look where Penn State is now, you almost forget.

“People thought they’d never be able to recruit again. Guessing on this is a tough prognostication.”