Is Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo responsible for the criminal or cruel behavior of his Spartans?

If Tom Izzo sounds like he has been advised by counsel, it’s because he likely has been.

Is every coach ultimately responsible for players who assault women?

Can they anticipate every wayward misstep while players roam dorms and frats?

Maybe the more important questions is – Are coaches ultimately on the hook for following the advice of bosses or lawyers at their university?

I’m all for finding an HMFIC to use as a scapegoat for the collective insanity at Michigan State.  The president resigned, and then the AD quit too, but we’re still angry and want another pelt to hang on the wall of extreme shame in East Lansing.

Let’s find the right victim.

Bad stuff happened at Michigan State – a lot of it.  Larry Nassar’s victims now total 265, and the assaults against women allegedly perpetrated by athletes are near 20.  Most of the accused have been football players, but Mark Dantonio isn’t nearly as well known as Izzo, so we tend to point toward Tom, who had a grad assistant accused of hitting a girl in a bar and a couple of former players who may have gang raped a student in their dorm room.

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Really ugly stuff, and we are tired of entitled students (athletes or not) who assault vulnerable women and girls.  We want justice.

But is it just to hold Izzo culpable for every player who violates the law or our sense of what is right and wrong? Would we simply be balancing the scales by creating yet another victim in this mess?

How about we choose to look at this Izzo business like this – if Izzo took part in any effort to sweep under the rug any evidence against one of his players or assistants, he has to go.  Fire him.  Done.  Adios.  Anyone who protects rapists does not deserve to keep his job, or be in a position lead boys into manhood.

If Izzo was told to allow an investigation to take place before determining whether a player was worthy of remaining as part of his program, that’s a different matter.  It’s weak, but not actionable.

In the society we have created, all a man or women is asked to do is report everything he or she knows to his superior.  That is the extent of the responsibility we have as an employee.  We can dicker over what level of pathetic-ness that represents, but it in many cases it is all we are allowed to do.  It doesn’t set us up to be viewed as an outstanding human being, but it’s how a lot of weak assholes keep their jobs.

Act unilaterally and you may be fired.  Top what you believe is the right thing, and you might wind up a good and unemployed person.

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These are pathetic times, so we need to make sure the most pathetic are punished.  If we deal outside the shades of gray that are mandated in employee handbooks and HR seminars to limit exposure, who among us might be next?

Izzo appears to have been weak, but not culpable.

Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at

2 thoughts on “Is Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo responsible for the criminal or cruel behavior of his Spartans?

  1. TJ

    Agree 100 percent ! No exceptions . We all know there has to be many more victims , Why should any athletes anywhere get a pass ? Victims lives changed forever and in most cases no justice . Winning at all costs cannot be tolerated any longer ! VICTIMS LIVES MATTER !

  2. Mike The Siroky

    Lou Holtz used to claim ignorance of anything because he didn’t read the papers, the books, except he’d later reference them. His lemmings always bought it. This is that


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