Michigan State athletics in turmoil

In one of the more drawn out collapses of a university’s athletic integrity in recent memory, Michigan State University (MSU) has gone from a powerhouse across almost all mainstream sports to a laughing stock and quite possibly a black mark on the Big Ten Conference’s good name within less than a decade. Some of the stories that have come out in recent years will be well known by now, but others have flown under the radar as MSU has sought and continues to seek to quiet the spread of damning information against its athletic department. From Larry Nassar to football delinquents to former athletes convicted of major felonies, the Spartans may never recover from this — and perhaps deservedly so. For those concerned, I will issue a trigger warning at this time for discussion of sexual abuse, murder and assault.  

Sparty’s decline seemingly began in 2015 with the beginning of the USA Gymnastics Scandal, which implicated sports physician Larry Nassar in the organized sexual abuse of hundreds of young women across several decades as a faculty member of USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University. Nassar is now serving copious prison time, of course, after a long trial which saw him convicted of at least 265 counts of varying sexual assault charges, which were later followed by federal charges for evidence tampering and child pornography. As of December 2017, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison after which he will be transferred to a Michigan state prison to carry out consecutive sentences of 40-175 years and 40-125 years for a concoction of rape and other sexual abuse charges. But perhaps the most despicable portion of this story is the university’s response. Interim President of MSU during this time John Engler stigmatized and attacked victims rather than offer words of healing as he repeatedly reported updates on the situation in very intentional legal language rather than make any admittance of university wrongdoing, and even went as far as to accuse victims of simply enjoying the spotlight.  

One would expect MSU to look to improve behavior among their athletes and staff after this massive scandal, but it seems to have done the opposite. After a relatively quiet few years, fall of 2022 brought the worst back out of MSU athletes. After their crushing defeat to the Michigan Wolverines on the football field on Oct. 29, the defeated Spartans produced quite a scene in the tunnel when DBs Ja’Den McBurrows and Gemon Green accidentally walked down the wrong portion of the tunnel at The Big House and was promptly assaulted by a legion of MSU players. As a result, seven were hit with criminal charges, among which the most serious was DB Khary Crump’s felonious assault charge for striking Green with his helmet. DE Jacoby Windmon was also hit with felony charges which consisted of assault and battery. Five other players were charged with aggravated assault. All seven were suspended along with fellow Spartan Malcom Jones, who escaped legal action. 

And as if these events weren’t enough, it has now been reported on Valentines Day that former star point guard of the men’s basketball team Keith Appling has plead guilty to murder charges stemming from the shooting death of his relative, 66-year-old Clyde Edmonds. The alleged event took place in May 2021, with police saying that the shooting resulted from an argument over a handgun between the two men. Appling is then said to have fled the scene. He has now pled guilty to second degree murder, a charge which carries a sentence of 18-40 years.