4-Star Recruit's Mother, Photo Dispute Mark Dantonio's Curtis Blackwell Claims

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2020

EAST LANSING, MI - FEBRUARY 04: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans addresses the media after announcing his retirement before the game between the Michigan State Spartans and Penn State Nittany Lions at the Breslin Center on February 4, 2020 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

La Keshia Neal, the mother of Notre Dame defensive lineman Daelin Hayes, is disputing a claim made by former Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio that he and assistant coach Curtis Blackwell didn't visit Hayes at his home during the recruiting process.

According to the Detroit News' Tony Paul, Dantonio testified at a January deposition that Blackwell didn't travel along with him to visit recruits at their homes, noting it would've been an NCAA violation.

However, Neal provided a sworn affidavit saying Blackwell was part of a group from Michigan State that came to her home in December 2015. Neal provided a picture as well.

Hayes was the No. 10 outside linebacker in the 2016 recruiting class, per 247Sports' composite rankings, and chose the Fighting Irish.

Blackwell filed suit against Dantonio, former university President Lou Anna Simon, former MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis and two MSU police detectives, in November 2018, per the Lansing State Journal's Matt Mencarini:

"The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Grand Rapids alleges that the defendants 'feeling the heat from the Larry Nassar cover-up, and eager to prove they were tough on cover-ups, ran roughshod over (Blackwell's) rights when he was wrongly accused of covering up for MSU athletes involved in an alleged sexual assault of a female co-ed in January 2017.

"With no evidence, none, that (Blackwell) covered up for the athletes, the MSU Police Department, in stormtrooper fashion cuffed (Blackwell); seized his personal and MSU cell phones and hauled him off to the MSU Police station.'"

As the case continues to wind through the legal system, Paul reported Feb. 4 that Blackwell alleged Dantonio had committed NCAA violations.

Blackwell claimed the former coach "orchestrated employment for the parents of two MSU football players, with mega-donor Bob Skandalaris."

He also said he was with a contingent of Spartans representatives for a visit with an unnamed recruit. Blackwell, director of college advancement and performance, wasn't permitted under NCAA rules to have off-campus visits with prospective recruits.

In his deposition, Dantonio said Blackwell had traveled once for a visit but remained in their car.

The 63-year-old resigned earlier this month and told reporters Blackwell's ongoing lawsuit had "no relevance whatsoever" in his decision. Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman also said the allegations made by Blackwell "are patently false" from the school's understanding.

The Spartans hired Mel Tucker to succeed Dantonio.

According to the Detroit Free Press' Chris Solari, Tucker's deal reflected the current situation at the program. Should the NCAA levy any sanctions against Michigan State, an extra year will be added to the deal. Should the punishment carry over to more than one year, the extension would reflect the length of the sanctions.

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