MSU football player sues school, claiming rights violated as investigation continues

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

A Michigan State football player is suing the university, alleging his rights are being violated as the school investigates a sexual assault complaint involving him.

According to the lawsuit filed Friday in the U.S. District Court’s Western Michigan district, the player, who is a sophomore on scholarship at Michigan State, is identified as John Doe.

The suit asserts the school has “been unresponsive to Plaintiff’s demands to reinstate Plaintiff to the team during the pendency of the grievance process, and, specifically, during the fall 2021 football season that is currently underway.”

According to the suit, in January of 2021, a female student alleged the plaintiff and another MSU football player sexually assaulted her. The plaintiff, who claims the encounter was consensual, said the allegation was reported to a coach after he was questioned by police “on or about Feb. 3.”

The next day, according to the suit, the plaintiff was suspended by coach Mel Tucker, banning him from all team activities.

The plaintiff says he has been denied access to team activities, depriving him of “a substantial educational opportunity." The lawsuit also claims the suspension violates his rights under Title IX, breaches MSU’s contractual duties and discriminates against the player because of his gender without a full and fair investigation into the allegations.

"Michigan State Athletics does not have a comment on pending litigation," a school spokesman said Saturday morning.

The lawsuit says the plaintiff’s attorney advisers attempted to resolve the issue with MSU’s Title IX office, but the Title IX office responded that the restrictions on the plaintiff’s football participation were the result of an “athletic department policy.”

No policy was provided and the plaintiff argued the policy could not supersede Title IX, according to the suit.

The plaintiff’s attorney’s also sent a letter on Oct. 1 to MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., requesting the plaintiff be reinstated to the football team “immediately to prevent irreparable harm.”

The suit says there has been no response from President Stanley and the player remains suspended.

Twitter: @mattcharboneau