Judge: Banned MSU football player can't sue school anonymously

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

A lawsuit filed by a Michigan State football player against the university and its athletics department was dismissed Friday because the player did not include his name in the filing. 

The lawsuit — claiming the player’s Title IX rights are being violated as he is indefinitely suspended from the football team while an investigation continues into an alleged sexual assault involving him — was dismissed without prejudice by U.S. Western District Judge Hala Jarbou.

The judge denied the plaintiff’s request for an extension to file an amended complaint, saying the player will not be allowed to proceed anonymously.

“Plaintiff’s anonymous motion for an extension of time does not address the Court’s concerns regarding the need for open judicial proceedings,” Jarbou wrote. “If and when Plaintiff is prepared to proceed under his own name, he can do so by filing a new complaint.”

The lawsuit was filed under the name “John Doe.” On Oct. 14, the judge denied a motion to proceed anonymously and set a Thursday deadline for an amended complaint including the plaintiff’s full name. A motion for an extension was filed on Thursday but Jarbou denied that motion and dismissed the case.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff was identified as a sophomore on full scholarship at Michigan State. 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 complaint.

In January of 2021, Jane Doe, a female student who is also an intern with the football team, alleged the plaintiff and another player assaulted her, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiff, who claims the sexual 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 lawsuit, the plaintiff was suspended by coach Mel Tucker, banning him from all team activities, a suspension that continues.


Twitter: @mattcharboneau