It has become predictable now.
Another Tom Izzo news conference. Another set of tough questions about sexual assault allegations. Another flurry of non-answers from the Michigan State coach.
About the only way Wednesday evening’s postgame session deviated from the previous two was that Izzo appeared better coached in how to gracefully decline comment. Asked for his reaction to former Michigan State guard Travis Walton issuing a flat denial of sexual assault allegations against him, Izzo launched into a polite, polished response that sounded well-rehearsed.
“Well, I appreciate the question,” Izzo began. “One thing I’ve done my whole career is I’ve had great respect for the media. You have the right to ask, but unfortunately I have no additional comment. I’ve given my comments. I have no additional ones. I will cooperate with the investigation as I always have.”
In the five days since ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines’ published a piece highlighting that Michigan State’s history of not properly handling sexual assault allegations extends beyond the Larry Nassar scandal, Izzo has been grilled three times on the topic. Each time he has sidestepped tough questions about his approach when disturbing allegations surfaced about Walton and then later about fellow former Michigan State stars Keith Appling and Adreian Payne.
There’s a school of thought that Izzo is staying tight-lipped because either his attorneys or university administrators have demanded it. Three different times Wednesday night Izzo was asked if he would like to speak out but can’t, and each time he neither confirmed nor denied that his lawyers are telling him what he can and can’t say.
“I don’t know if I can’t [comment],” Izzo said. “I can do whatever I want to do. I just don’t think it’s the right time right now. Again I apologize, but I’m just going to stick to that.”
Izzo certainly has every right to decline to answer any question, but choosing not to be transparent and accountable comes at a price. The longer he goes without addressing his decisions regarding Walton, Payne and Appling, the more it looks like he has something to hide.
For better or worse, it appears Izzo is comfortable with that. He declined to specify if he has a timetable in mind for when he will address some of the many unanswered questions.
Said Izzo, “I’m going to do what I think is right.”
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