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Mark Dantonio, other MSU officials sued by former recruiting director Curtis Blackwell

Dantonio 1 Michigan State
Nov 26, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans Mark Dantonio walks on the field during a warmup prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Former Michigan State recruiting director Curtis Blackwell believes that his contract was not renewed as a retaliation, and now he’s suing.

He filed a lawsuit in Grand Rapids in federal court against Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio and other and current MSU officials over what he believes an unlawful arrest and a retaliatory job termination over his lack of cooperation with a sexual assault investigation. The suit is seeking $150,000 in damages in addition to lawyer fees and other punitive damages.

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In addition to Dantonio, former athletic director Mark Hollis and former school president Lou Anna K. Simon were also named in the suit.

Blackwell was found to have violated a school policy in 2017 for not reporting information learned about a sexual assault allegation against members of the program. He was suspended in February of 2017 for, as the university described it, “several allegations regarding your conduct.”

However, Blackwell says that he was unlawfully arrested without being read his Miranda rights while being interviewed by Michigan State police on February 8 in the Michigan State football building, as well as having two of his cell phones seized. Blackwell said that he spoke to the players in question, but he described it as “mentoring the student athletes by encouraging them to stay away from wild parties”. He also spoke to the players in question after being contacted by the father of one of the players.

He was investigated by the Michigan State University police for obstruction of justice, though no charges were filed.

Blackwell alleges that his decision to not talk to investigators during their investigation into the January sexual assault claim “greatly displeased” Dantonio, Simon and Hollis, leading to the decision to not renew his contract.

He remained suspended until June of 2017 when his contract wasn’t renewed due to “philosophical differences”, though he claims he was given inconsistent rationales for the decision.

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