LANSING, Mich. — A picture and affidavit filed in a lawsuit against former Michigan State University football coach Mark Dantonio contradicts his sworn testimony that he did not violate NCAA rules.
Former MSU football staffer Curtis Blackwell is suing Dantonio, former MSU athletic director Mark Hollis, former MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon and two MSU police detectives. He claims they made him the scapegoat after 3 former players, Josh King, Donnie Corley Jr. and Demetric Vance, were charged with sexually assaulting a woman at a party in 2017. They eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Blackwell's contract was not renewed later that year. Dantonio claims it was because of philosophical differences.
A filing in the lawsuit by Blackwell's attorneys accused Dantonio of arranging jobs for relatives of high-profile recruits and of taking Blackwell on a trip to a recruit's home. NCAA rules do not allow non-coaching assistants to make in-home visits.
Dantonio denied taking Blackwell to the visit during his deposition. But on Tuesday La Keshia Neal, mother of former five-star recruit Daelin Hayes, released a picture showing Blackwell, Dantonio, Mike Tressel and former assistant Harlon Barnett posing with her son in their home. She also signed an affidavit stating Blackwell was in her home with the coaches on December 7, 2015 and that she served them breakfast. Hayes eventually signed to play for Notre Dame. He will be a redshirt senior for the Fighting Irish in the fall of 2020.
The picture and affidavit were filed by Blackwell's lawyers in response to a motion from lawyers for Dantonio and the other defendants asking U.S. District Court Judge Janet T. Neff to dismiss the case. One of their arguments for dismissal is their claim that Blackwell's lawyers made false and scandalous accusations about Dantonio committing recruiting violations. Blackwell's lawyers offered the picture and the affidavit to back up their allegations.
Dantonio retired on February 4, just hours after the allegations of recruiting violations went public. At Dantonio's retirement press conference that evening athletic director Bill Beekman said, "The university is aware of it. To the best of our knowledge, as I understand it, the allegations are patently false. We'll be happy to defend that in the court of Law." Tuesday MSU confirmed it is investigating the allegations.
Should the alleged violations result in NCAA sanctions new football coach Mel Tucker's contract will be extended. The contract includes a provision stating any NCAA sanctions involving a loss of scholarships or being banned from playing in a bowl game automatically extend the deal. Tucker will get one more year added onto the six-year contract for every year of punishment.
Michigan State University's Athletic Department sent a statement to FOX 47 News regarding the picture and La Keshia Neal's affidavit.
"We are aware of the allegations made by Curtis Blackwell as part of his litigation. As with any allegation concerning NCAA compliance, MSU is investigating and working with the NCAA and Big Ten. We have fully complied with our self-reporting obligations to the NCAA throughout this case.” – Matt Larson, MSU Associate Athletic Director/Communications
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