The horrifying case of Michigan State and USA Gymnastics athletic physician Larry Nassar has had fallout well beyond this specific case. As it should. The entire board of USA Gymnastics will resign. The president of Michigan State and the athletic director of the university are stepping down.
It has opened up a much broader investigation into an insular and protective athletic culture at Michigan State that allowed this and much more to go on (women came forward against Nassar as far back as the late 1990s but were brushed aside by the university).
Now that investigation has touched the Los Angeles Clippers. From Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
What did Walton allegedly do? From the ESPN Outside the Lines investigation:
On Jan. 16, 2010, Michigan State junior Ashley Thompson and her friends met at an East Lansing bar to memorialize a friend who had died in a car crash… Travis Walton, who a year prior had helped lead Michigan State to the 2009 national championship basketball game and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, approached Thompson’s table.
“He started speaking with us, and I’m like, ‘I’m sorry. Can you just give us a moment?'” Thompson told Outside the Lines. “And he was like, ‘You don’t know who I am?’ And I was like, ‘I really don’t care who you are.’ And he kind of got angry at that point, and I told him to not-so-politely F-off.”
She says Walton — who at the time was an undergraduate student assistant coach under Tom Izzo — instantly became angry.
“I barely got the words out of my mouth, and he came across and he struck me on the right side of my face,” she says. “I kind of reached back toward him, and I didn’t make contact, and then that’s when he swung with a second reach and hit me on the left side of my face and hit me so hard that it knocked me backwards off of my barstool.”
Just like apparently a lot of things at Michigan State, this was swept under the rug, until now. (To be honest, I sadly believe this to be the culture at a majority of major college sports programs. Michigan State is far from alone, but that doesn’t make it right.)