EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman defended basketball coach Tom Izzo on Thursday after Izzo was accused in an ESPN report of contacting a witness who was part of a 2017 criminal sexual conduct investigation involving one of his players.
According to a police report obtained by ESPN, Michigan State student Brayden Smith was with basketball player Brock Washington on the night a female student said Washington forcibly groped her. When police interviewed Smith, he said he had already been contacted by Izzo and two assistant coaches.
Beekman responded in a lengthy statement Thursday.
“Tom Izzo has been a beacon of integrity in his profession for nearly four decades, including a quarter century as head coach. Michigan State's Office of Institutional Equity has gone on record to say that no policies were violated in regards to any actions taken by the men's basketball staff during a Title IX investigation into a student,” he said.
Smith told investigators he considers the coaches his “godfathers” who check in on him occasionally.
This week, ESPN reported that campus police told prosecutors they had probable cause that Brock Washington raped a woman Jan. 19 while she was too intoxicated to consent. County prosecutors declined to file charges because they didn't feel they could prove their case to a jury.