Michigan State investigating sexual assault claims 'connected to' football program

Dr. Saturday
Michigan State announced it is investigating three student-athletes. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Michigan State announced it is investigating three student-athletes. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Michigan State is investigating allegations of sexual assault that it says are “connected to the football program.”

The school said in a news release Thursday that three unnamed student-athletes — it does not specify if they are football players — have been “suspended from team activities and removed from on-campus housing pending the conclusion of police and Title IX investigations.” Additionally, a football staff member has been suspended by the athletic department pending an investigation “into football program staff members’ compliance with university policy in connection with the allegations.”

University police is investigating the matter and has “been in communication with” the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office. The school is also conducting a separate Title IX investigation to determine if MSU’s “Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy” was violated.

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“The core values of MSU Athletics are clear, consistently communicated and non-negotiable,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a statement. “Among them are respect for self and others, accountability for actions and choices, and integrity. Sexual assault is unacceptable, and members of MSU Athletics who fail to uphold our standards for creating a culture that is safe, supportive, and responsive to those affected by it will be held accountable. My expectation of all members of the department is full and complete cooperation with all investigations.

“We have a strong athletics program at MSU, one based on values, traditions, and an understanding that as Spartans we are part of something bigger. Our promise to current and future student-athletes and to the entire Spartan community is to take the steps necessary, based on the facts determined through thorough review, to run this program according to the highest values and standards.”

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The news of an investigation from MSU comes the same day The Detroit News reported that Spartans defensive end Demetrius Cooper was hit with a misdemeanor assault charge in October. Cooper is accused of spitting on an East Lansing Parking and Code Enforcement officer’s face.

Cooper’s story differs from the police’s version of events:

The incident occurred around 8:50 p.m. Oct. 30, 2016, when an officer with Parking and Code Enforcement said he saw a car parked illegally in front of Noodles and Co. in East Lansing. The officer issued a citation for impeding traffic and was confronted by Cooper, 21, who came out of the restaurant when he saw he was being given a ticket.

According to the report, PACE officer David Dalen explained the citation and Cooper headed back into the restaurant, at which time he advised Cooper he could receive another citation if the Chevrolet Impala remained parked illegally. That’s where the stories differ. Dalen claims Cooper said, “I’m going to spit in your face. I should spit on you right now,” at which time police say he did spit on Dalen. Cooper’s statement in the police report said he admitted he was frustrated and confused why he could receive another citation and said he did tell the officer he should spit on him but did not.

After an investigation, a warrant was issued for Cooper’s arrest and it was executed on Nov. 30 without incident. Cooper posted $500 bond.

Cooper, an 11-game starter in 2016, is slated to be a fifth-year senior for MSU in 2017. He has 55 tackles and 8.5 sacks in 38 career games.

For more Michigan State news, visit SpartanMag.com.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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