Tom Izzo stepped to the podium. His sentences, minutes after an emotional road victory, were atypically terse and somber. “We all know it’s been a time when there’s been a lot of distractions,” Izzo said Sunday. “I think sometimes guys just have to focus in on their job and then deal with the other stuff after.” All of that “other stuff” now has put a major focus and pressure on Izzo’s job status as he turns 63 on Tuesday. In one week, he went from an ambassador of Michigan State to an embattled basketball coach who — along with Mark Dantonio and the rest of the athletic department and university — is caught in the crosshairs of an ESPN investigation that published Friday and dug into a perceived culture of sexual violence against women. It comes on the heels of the Larry Nassar scandal, in which the former USA Gymnastics and MSU sports medicine doctor sexually assaulted more than 150 women or young girls, including at least a dozen Spartan athletes in five different sports. The collateral damage last week included the retirements of MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis. Meanwhile, Izzo is trying to manage one his best teams in his 23 seasons as MSU’s head coach. The Spartans showed heart and toughness in a 74-68 comeback road win Sunday at Maryland, a performance that put into practice many of Izzo’s basketball teachings over the decades. Outwardly, he did what he always does — showed his emotions on the sideline, yelling at and cajoling his players to give more. But point guard Cassius Winston said “you can tell” Izzo is different in the wake of the allegations against his storied program. “He’s just such a giving person,” Winston said. “All that he’s getting, he’s using that energy and that focus and he’s using that to lift us and band us together so we can go on the road and win games like this.” One of MSU’s most prominent alums and biggest basketball program superstars, Magic Johnson, sent four tweets Monday morning on the situation at his alma mater. He called for the firing of anyone from the president’s office, Board of Trustees, athletic department, faculty and campus police if they were aware of sexual assaults on campus.
Michigan State's Tom Izzo under microscope amid program allegations
Detroit Free Press | Jan 30