Analysts: Scandal hasn’t hurt MSU recruiting, not yet, at least

EAST LANSING —

More than a month has passed since Michigan State received national letters of intent from all 20 of its 2018 committed prospects on the first day of the new early signing period.

Significant events have transpired since then and many have been negative for the university, including the football program under coach Mark Dantonio.

Michigan State is attempting to dig out of the scandal involving former university sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar, who is headed to prison for the rest of his life for sexually assaulting girls and women. Attorney General Bill Schuette and the NCAA are both investigating Michigan State and president Lou Anna K. Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis both resigned.

Michigan State’s first early signing period is drama free

Just hours after Hollis stepped down on Jan. 26, ESPN published a report questioning how the university handled complaints of sexual assault and violence and alleged some were handled internally by the athletic department or coaches, including Dantonio and basketball coach Tom Izzo. Dantonio denied he ever individually handled a sexual assault complaint against one of his players while Izzo said he always has and will cooperate with investigations.

As Michigan State’s reputation is tarnished, Dantonio and his staff have been actively recruiting, both finishing off the 2018 class with the traditional February national signing day on Wednesday and working for the future.

“I haven’t heard a lot of negativity swirling around the speculation about the future of the athletic program as a whole or Mark Dantonio,” ESPN recruiting director Tom Luginbill said Monday morning on a conference call. “They’re obviously going to have to manage that because those questions are going to be asked, but they can only answer based off of answers that they have and kids will have to either trust in that or they won’t. I think this would be much more damaging for them if we were sitting here under the old regulations and having to sign an entire class on Wednesday as opposed to just a few players.”

The addition of an early signing period for the first time in college football benefitted Michigan State, which signed all of its commits. Dantonio previously acknowledged it was a success this year, but that doesn’t mean it will be the same in the future.

Michigan State’s 2018 signees support Mark Dantonio amid university’s sexual assault crisis

Members of Michigan State’s 2018 signing class voiced support for Dantonio and his staff following the ESPN report. The Spartans are already recruiting the 2019 class and have four commits from the group who are now verbally pledged to a university and program dealing with fallout from multiple investigations.

“I think where you’ll really have to assess the effect is in the ’19 class,” said Allen Trieu, Midwest recruiting analyst for 247Sports. “Right now, those kids are not at the point in their recruitment where it’s easy to tell. They’re not really affected by anything yet because they’re still figuring everything it out. Some of these guys they’re recruiting are getting offers weekly.”