UPDATE 5:45 p.m. ET
Michigan State has dismissed defensive lineman Austin Robertson, coach Mark Dantonio said in a Friday afternoon statement.
“Due to the charges he was facing during his recruitment, we took precaution in allowing Auston to be a part of our football program, including a thorough vetting, which we acknowledged publicly at his signing. This was a multiple-step process that continued through his final admission in the summer.
“Following his arrival on campus, he underwent an extensive educational process with specific prerequisites put in place for his participation as a student-athlete. This included daily supervised sessions within the football program and regular meetings with university staff addressing appropriate behavior and developmental growth. He also successfully completed his one-year diversionary program as directed by the court, which included a 22-week course focused on behavior changes that began in Indiana and was transferred to the state of Michigan (Prevention and Training Services). Despite these measures, Auston broke our trust and expectations by putting himself in a compromising situation.”
Robertson had been charged with a misdemeanor while in high school after allegedly inappropriately touching a female student.
Auston Robertson has been identified as the Michigan State player under investigation for an alleged sexual assault. Per the Detroit Free Press, Robertson, a sophomore defensive lineman, was formally charged with third-degree sexual criminal conduct on Friday.
The charge, a felony, stems from an alleged April 9 incident in Meridian Township, Michigan, the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office announced.
A third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge relates to alleged non-consensual sexual penetration with force or coercion, the victim being incapacitated or other factors. Online court records indicate Robertson’s charge involves force or coercion.
The charges were sworn in 55th District Court in Mason. Meridian Township Police conducted the investigation. If convicted, he could face penalties ranging up to 15 years in prison.
Robertson, who played in seven games in 2016 as a true freshman, was suspended indefinitely by the football program when it became aware of the investigation earlier this month.
The current situation involving Robertson is separate from the ongoing sexual assault investigation into three unnamed MSU players, who the school said were suspended on Feb. 9. No charges have been filed related to that alleged incident, which was reported to MSU police on Jan. 17.
Robertson was involved in a previous off-field incident that almost derailed his MSU career before it even began. Robertson, a four-star recruit, did not sign with the Spartans on national signing day because of a January 2016 charge for an October 2015 incident. Robertson faced a misdemeanor battery charge for allegedly inappropriately touching a female classmate.
He subsequently entered a diversionary program and the charge was cleared from his record in March 2016. Michigan State announced it had accepted his letter of intent on March 30 of that year.
“Our decision to accept Auston Robertson’s signed National Letter of Intent and Big Ten Tender has been evaluated over the last three months while utilizing all resources available to us to thoroughly review his situation,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said in a school statement when the lineman signed.
“Our relationship with Auston began last summer when he committed to Michigan State. When we accepted his verbal (commitment), we also made a commitment to him and his family. We elected not to sign him in early February, and since then he has been accepted into a pretrial diversionary program and must continue to satisfy those requirements. Given all the information available to us, we believe Auston should be provided with an opportunity to begin his education and playing career at Michigan State.”
Fifteen players were held out of Michigan State’s April 1 spring game. Robertson was not one of them. Before the spring game, Dantonio addressed reporters for the first time in months and said he was “extremely concerned” about the investigation into three of his players.
“I cannot comment on an investigation,” said Dantonio, who reiterated the “serious” nature of the situation multiple times. “That’s not my place. I’m a football coach here. I’m a head of the program. What I can comment on, I will comment on. What I won’t do right now is talk about football because I don’t think that’s important enough, quite honestly, to talk about at this point in time in our program.
“I hope everybody understands how serious we are taking this relative to our football program. I hope everybody understands this is not business as usual. To come out here and have our players be interviewed and act like there’s nothing going on, I just think that’s inappropriate and that’s why I haven’t done it.”
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