Michigan State's Mark Dantonio announces retirement
Michigan State University football coach Mark Dantonio is retiring after a 13-year run.
Defensive coordinator Mike Tressel will be the acting head coach while Michigan State seeks a replacement.
Dantonio has more wins than any other coach in the program's history. He also won three Big Ten championships, a Rose Bowl and an appearance in the College Football Playoff.
In a statement first released on social media, Dantonio said his retirement "marks one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever made here at Michigan State."
"This job has always been a 24/7, 365 day-a-year position," Dantonio said in the statement. "There is no down time and it is filled with the demands and challenges of managing games, players, coaches, recruits, donors, staff, media, an enthusiastic fan base and competition at the very highest level. I will miss it all but feel the sacrifices that I have made away from my family must now become my priority at this time in my life."
Dantonio's retirement announcement comes less than three weeks after he qualified to receive a $4.3 million bonus from the university. According to the terms of a contract Dantonio signed in 2016, he earned more than $4 million each year in total compensation, plus the one-time bonus of $4.3 million if he stayed on as head coach through Jan. 15, 2020.
The announcement also comes one day after the attorney for a former MSU football staffer accused Dantonio and the university of “potentially major NCAA violations" in a filing with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
Curtis Blackwell worked for MSU's football team until 2017, when his contract wasn't renewed. Blackwell alleges Dantonio violated his rights in not extending the contract because of how Blackwell handled an alleged sexual assault by three members of the football team.
Dantonio was deposed in the case on January 10th.
Blackwell's attorney alleges Dantonio "may have committed perjury" in that deposition when he claimed that Blackwell never went on a visit to the home of a football recruit. The attorney says Blackwell did accompany Dantonio on a visit to the home of a “five star football recruit from the metro Detroit area,” in a possible violation of NCAA recruiting rules.
In an email response filed with the court, attorneys for Dantonio and the university called the allegations of NCAA violations and perjury, "not only false, but totally gratuitous." They've asked the judge in the case to sanction Blackwell's attorney for raising the allegations in court filings.
Shortly after Dantonio's retirement was announced, BTN spoke to MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo, who is a friend of Dantonio's.
Izzo praised Dantonio as a person and his legacy as a coach.
"I think Michigan State is on the football map now," Izzo said. "And I'm not sure we were there."
Izzo also acknowledged the difficulty of the job, especially at Michigan State, which continues to face consequences from the sexual abuse scandal involving former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar.
"“It hasn’t been an easy couple years around here, it really hasn’t," Izzo told BTN. “In college athletics right now, the way everything’s going, it seems like the job never ends. You don’t even get away for a break. And I just think Mark thought it was time.”