Latest Blackwell allegations against Dantonio will likely pull NCAA into fray

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — A day before Mark Dantonio announced he was stepping down as Michigan State’s football coach after 13 seasons, lawyers for former football staffer Curtis Blackwell alleged that Dantonio committed multiple NCAA violations.

Dantonio’s defense team quickly dismissed those allegations, saying the NCAA-violation claims made public were "false, scandalous, and wholly unsupported accusations. This sham should not be allowed to continue.”

Retired Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio

The NCAA allegations are the latest bombshell claims in the Blackwell case, which was filed after Blackwell was let go by Dantonio in May 2017, after four years of employment.

While the cases brought by Blackwell continue to move forward in federal court, now that the allegations have been made, it likely means the NCAA will be notified. Late Wednesday night, a spokesperson for the NCAA said there would be no comment, but it is common practice for universities to communicate with the NCAA when allegations are made.

Michigan State follows this practice, as well, associate athletic director for communications Matt Larson said. While he couldn’t talk about specific incidents, Larson said the school would reach out to NCAA enforcement staff regarding any alleged violations and if the school had determined a violation had occurred, they would self report such violations.

When it comes to the allegations made by Blackwell, athletic director Bill Beekman said on Tuesday night that they were “patently false.”

“The university is aware of it,” Beekman said. “To the best of our knowledge and how I understand the allegations, they are patently false. We’ll be happy to defend that in the court of law and so far as they’re ongoing legal issues, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot else I can say.”

Beekman, who was named to his position in July 2018, said he’s regularly touting the integrity of Dantonio as well as men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo.

“In the first year that I was athletic director, there were a number of allegations raised involving Mark and Tom as well,” Beekman said. “I made a point at every public event that I spoke at for an entire year, that if I mentioned Mark or Tom’s name, I used the word integrity, and I did that very intentionally. I guess I stopped doing that because you can’t do the same thing all the time, but perhaps it’s a good opportunity to say that from my perspective, Mark and Tom are two people of extraordinary integrity and I think that will bear itself out.”

Dantonio was asked if the Blackwell case and the recent allegations had anything to do with him stepping down and he dismissed that idea.

“Zero,” Dantonio said. “No relevance whatsoever.”

He was later pressed on the issue of the lawsuit.

“Well, I think that’s something for the courts,” Dantonio said. “I’ve tried very hard never to say anything negative about anybody, so I’ll keep that right where it’s at.”

Twitter: @mattcharboneau