Former Michigan State basketball assistant Travis Walton was one of the focal points of an Outside the Lines investigation from Paula Lavigne and Nicole Noren of ESPN delving into "a pattern of widespread denial, inaction and information suppression" by school officials when it came to violence against women.
The report detailed two incidents involving Walton. He was charged for punching a female student in the face in one, and another female student said he and two Michigan State basketball players raped her in the other incident.
Walton released a statement Tuesday in which he denied physically assaulting a woman and said he has never been charged with sexual assault, describing his encounters as consensual. Mike Sullivan of 97.1 The Ticket shared Walton's words:
The Outside the Lines report comes on the heels of the weeklong sentencing hearings for former Michigan State physician and United States Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing underage girls and young women.
Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis both resigned from their positions amid mounting criticism for how the school handled Nassar and allegations against him.
As for Walton, he was a player in Tom Izzo's program before becoming an undergraduate student assistant coach and helped lead the Spartans to the 2009 national title game. According to Outside the Lines, Walton pled not guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery charges for the incident when he allegedly punched a woman in the face.
The charges were ultimately dismissed, and he pled guilty to a civil infraction for littering.
As for the rape allegations, "little action was taken in regard to the players, and the report stayed within the athletic department, not to be investigated by anyone who handled student conduct or judicial affairs issues," the Outside the Lines investigation noted when summarizing words from former Michigan State sexual assault counselor Lauren Allswede.
Allswede—who left the school in 2015 because she was frustrated with its handling of sexual assault cases—also said Walton was fired in a letter she wrote.
Izzo was asked about Walton following a win over Maryland on Sunday and said, per Gene Wang of the Washington Post (h/t Chicago Tribune), "To be honest with you, I don't know why he left. He went to Europe to play, and as you know, I'll still say I'll cooperate with any investigation that's made. I did it then. I did it before, and I'm not going to answer any questions that aren't pertaining to basketball or things that I am not going to talk about right now."
The Outside the Lines investigation also discussed the football program and noted at least 16 players have been accused of violence against women or sexual assault since head coach Mark Dantonio assumed his position in 2007.