In the latest Sports Illustrated Podcast, ESPN investigative reporter Paula Lavigne discusses her recent ESPN Outside The Lines story on Michigan State.

By Richard Deitsch
February 04, 2018

ESPN’s Outside The Lines released a much-talked about piece in the sports media space on Feb. 1 that found “a pattern of widespread denial, inaction and information suppression of such allegations by officials ranging from campus police to the Spartan athletic department.” One of the co-authors of the piece, ESPN investigative reporter Paula Lavigne, recently discussed her reporting on the Sport Illustrated Media Podcast.

“We found a number of cases involving football and basketball players that had never reached the light of day, that had never been reported,” Lavigne said. “And we found a lot of questions in those cases as to how they were handled by the university and if there was any discipline or even any discussion with the players over what had happened. We also came across what I would call our whistleblower, a former Michigan State sexual assault counselor, Lauren Alsweed, who provided even more documents about how the university handled a particular case and implications in there that it was not handled properly.”

Episode 160 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features Lavigne discussing the timeline regarding the reporting for the story and when and where the story originated; how universities use a delay tactic on reporters attempting to obtain public records; the challenges of finding records on Baylor’s athletics department; her approach to FOIA requests and obtaining documents; whether she interacts with the programming side of ESPN; her thoughts on Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio and Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo’s reactions and denials regarding her reporting; criticism in some quarters that ESPN is taking advantage of the publicity of the Larry Nassar case to pile on Michigan State; the future of investigative work at sports media outlets; how we should we look sexual assault and college athletes and more.

The podcast also includes The MMQB founder Peter King discussing how he approaches his The MMQB podcast; his two-part podcast interview with Tom Brady at Brady’s home; how he books his podcast guest; why the podcast medium gets NFL people to open up more; what football podcasts he listens to regularly, and much more.

To listen to the podcast in full, check it out on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.


1:30: What Lavigne found in her reporting on Michigan State and how long it took her to find it.

3:30: Where Lavigne’s reporting originated and the relationship to ESPN’s Larry Nassar’s reporting.

10:50: How often universities use delay tactics when reporters attempt to obtain public records.

13:30: Lavigne’s reporting on Baylor University.

17:00: How a reporter goes about gaining public documents from a university and how to approach FOIA requests.

22:00: Michigan State football’s response to ESPN’s reporting

26:00: The reporting on Michigan State basketball and Tom Izzo’s responses.

30:00: Her reaction to Travis Walton statement about the OTL report.

34:00: Her reporting on Adreian Payne and Keith Appling.

38:00: Her response to those who claim ESPN is piling on Michigan State because of the Nassar story.

40:00: What is next in terms of the reporting on Michigan State.

42:00: Sexual assault and college athletics in the U.S.

44:00: The future of sports investigative journalism.

51:00: Peter King on how he books podcast guests and how he landed Tom Brady.

58:00: How NFL players are different in podcast form versus interviews elsewhere.

1:03:00: What football podcasts King listens to.

1:06.40: His guest philosophy heading forward including getting the new generation of notable players and personnel. That includes Ezekiel Elliott and Deshaun Watson.


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