Michigan State Former Guard Travis Walton Responds to ESPN Allegations

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Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard

Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard

ESPN made serious accusations against former Michigan State G Travis Walton late last week and over the weekend. Since that report there continues to be “Questions” about ESPN tactics and methods.

For example, how they espouse the 1st amendmentand the freedom of speech while they ignore the 5th amendmentand due process. You can’t pick and choose the parts of the Constitution that you want to use. It either works all of the time or none of the time.

ESPN (unlike most journalists who do not name the accused until charges are filed) in the opinion of this reporter was reckless in choosing to name those accused of a crime and not charged.

We must NOT allow any accusation of a crime to go unlooked at or ignored, but we do live in a nation that protects our citizens with a bedrock of innocence until proven guilty. I want to make this clear, Spartan Nation supports a thorough investigation and ANYONE convicted of covering up or committing a crime being prosecuted to the FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW.

Specific to Travis Walton, ESPN had two allegations that they alleged occurred during the 2009-2010 basketball campaign.

  • In January of 2010, Travis Walton was accused of punching a woman in East Lansing. There was an arrest warrant that was for Walton for misdemeanor assault and battery, but in April of 2010 that was dismissed and Walton pleaded guilty to littering. At the time Spartan Nation was told by law enforcement that there were witness statements that did not collaborate with the accuser.
  • The second alleged action by Walton was in April of 2010. Spartan Nation was NOT aware of this as it was never reported to or investigated by police. Per ESPN a woman alleged a gang rape that included Walton. ESPN’s story claimed that while the woman didn’t go to law enforcement her parents went to Mark Hollis who was then serving as the Michigan State Athletic Director and Walton was subsequently fired per the ESPN report.

Today Travis Walton issues a response to those accusations that relate to him. He first issued the statement to Jon Rothstein.

Over the last several days, allegations have been made about me during my tenure at Michigan State University. In this case, the facts are:

- I was never hired or fired by Michigan State University. In January of 2010, I was enrolled at Michigan State University, taking the necessary classes to complete my degree. Upon graduation, I returned to Europe to continue my basketball career.

- I never physically assaulted a woman at an East Lansing establishment, as alleged. While conversing with her, and without notice or provocation, she threw a drink at me, and I subsequently left the establishment. Two written statements from independent, objective witnesses were given to the City Attorney, and support my innocence. Ultimately, the determination to resolve the case was based on the merits of the investigation.

- I have never been charged with sexual assault and, to my knowledge, the alleged sexual assault was never reported to Michigan State University or the police. My encounters with this woman were more than just a single occasion, and my actions with her were always consensual.

I stand by these facts, and will defend myself to the extent that the law allows.

I apologize for the negative attention this has brought my Spartan family, the Clippers organization, and my family and friends.

ESPN also took exception to the fact that Walton had “lived” in Tom Izzo’s basement. While I do remember Walton staying with Izzo, and it being mentioned it was never presented as a long-term thing. Joe Rexrode who wrote for the Detroit Free Press at the time actually mentioned it as a note in an article. My recollection was proven correct. Chris Solari who took Rexrode's job when he moved on to be a columnist at another paper confirmed that last night.

As Rexrode’s writing at the time collaborates, it was not a long-term thing and his time at MSU was expected to be brief. Izzo having former players stay in his home is not a rare thing as the Spartan Hall of Fame head man preaches family in his program and practices it. Finally, I add this.

The ESPN report also cites Adreian Payne and Keith Appling. Spartan Nation was very aware of this story early in their freshmen year in 2010. They were both accused of raping a female student. AGAIN charges were never filed. Additionally, A Michigan State Title IX investigation found neither violated university policy. It was investigated by the Police who did not file charges. A Federal Investigation was also conducted. While I believe at the time it was not called the Title IX office, my recollection is that it was the OCR (Office of Civil Rights). That investigation cleared Appling and Payne as well. Three investigations by three different entities. Spartan Nation spent considerable time researching that allegation. As stated no charges.

If ESPN was concerned with the safety of woman on the campus of MSU (and we all MUST be) why did they film much of their story in August and early fall and yet wait until the Larry Nassar situation reached the zenith of emotion five months later to release it?

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