Silence on Pro Day Forces Media to Talk About Investigation

Amid sexual assault allegations against three unnamed football players and a staff member, Michigan State closed its annual pro day from the media. Each year, MSU holds pro day in East Lansing, which is an event similar to that of the NFL Combine. NFL scouts come to MSU and watch attempt to improve their draft stock by running drills, lift weights, etc.

MSU likely did this in order to avoid more attention surrounding the allegations. But now, the allegations are all anyone is going to talk about.

After the sexual assault accusations were made, MSU coach Mark Dantonio made it clear that he wanted no part in releasing any details. It took him one month to make any statement regarding the accusations, holding spring practices behind closed doors in the meantime. It appears that he wants to run his team his way without creating any distractions.

But is this approach creating fewer distractions? Not for one second. In fact, it’s creating more.

For instance, since Dantonio closed spring practices to the media, the media has not stopped reporting on the sexual assault. Reporters from mlive, The Detroit News, The Detroit Free Press and others cannot write about spring practices, so they write about sexual assault allegations instead. This is counterproductive from MSU’s standpoint.

By law, MSU cannot release any details regarding the investigation. Nothing has been proven yet, and the privacy of the victims and players are at stake. The issue is not that MSU refuses to comment on the investigation. The issue is that MSU feels the need to hide and be secretive until the investigation is resolved.

MSU could have run pro day on March 22 just as normal. Would the media ask questions surrounding the sexual assault? Perhaps, but no one had to answer them. This would have made for stories about Spartan juniors and seniors bidding adieu to MSU and testing their luck in the NFL Draft.

But now, the media can’t report on that. Instead, the only thing to report on is how there is no open pro day because of the allegations. Now, the media is once again reporting on the one thing MSU wants to keep silent—and it is entirely self-inflicted.

Does MSU really believe that by laying low, people will forget about the allegations? Making fans and analysts forget about a scandal is difficult to do. They will, however, notice that something is different—that MSU is having an eerily quiet offseason. Then reporters ask themselves why would this be, and it all points back to the investigation.

By remaining quiet on this matter, Dantonio is saying more than he could in 20 press conferences.

Closing pro day also brings into question what MSU could possibly be hiding. It very well may be nothing, especially since pro day is completely unrelated to the sexual assault.

But by closing football events that are normally held public, it is human nature to speculate. All the public knows is that there was a sexual assault accusation against three players and a staff member, and that MSU’s response has been to shut off any form of communication on the matter. Will people not then draw their own conclusions? Will people not ask themselves how bad this situation can possibly be if the Spartans refuse to do as little as show their faces in public?

Both the police and university are currently investigating the sexual assault. But the investigation does not appear to be ending anytime soon. So in the meantime, the best thing to do is run practices, press conferences and pro day as normal. But MSU’s decision to not do so is completely counterproductive.

Whether you are a reporter, MSU student or a fan, the only thing left to do is hope that more information regarding the sexual assault is revealed, and that it is handled accordingly. In the meantime, there is nothing left to do but wait.

MSU’s spring game is still scheduled to go as planned on April 1 at 3 p.m. Coverage is on BTN.