Ex-Michigan State staffer files state suit, alleges Mark Dantonio wanted an opposing team's practice recorded

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Former Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio retired on Feb. 4. He was replaced by Mel Tucker. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Former Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio retired on Feb. 4. He was replaced by Mel Tucker. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Former Michigan State staffer Curtis Blackwell has filed a second lawsuit against Michigan State and former coach Mark Dantonio.

The new suit, filed this week, is on top of Blackwell’s federal lawsuit for wrongful termination from his position as the team’s recruiting director. It was filed in state court because it cites a Michigan state statute for race-based discrimination and accuses Michigan State of recording an opponent’s practice. Details of that allegation, however, were not provided through multiple media reports about the suit.

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Spygate 2.0 this is not. At least not at the moment.

From the Detroit News:

In this latest lawsuit, Blackwell makes the claim that Dantonio ordered staff members to secretly record, either via audio or video, a practice held by an upcoming opponent, without receiving consent from said school. Blackwell also claims Dantonio made contact with players enrolled at other schools to inquire about transferring to MSU.

The suit names Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman as a defendant. He’s not named as a defendant in Blackwell’s federal suit.

Dantonio retired in early February

Dantonio abruptly retired on Feb. 4, the day before National Signing Day. He adamantly denied at his retirement press conference that Blackwell’s federal suit had anything to do with his decision to step down.

Two weeks after Dantonio’s retirement, an affidavit and a photo from a Notre Dame player’s mother contradicted Dantonio’s claims in a deposition that he never allowed Blackwell to accompany him on in-home recruiting visits. Blackwell has contended that Dantonio let him go into recruits’ families’ houses, a violation of NCAA rules. Dantonio has said that isn’t true.

Michigan State didn’t decline comment on the state suit to numerous media outlets. It did say after the affidavit and photo emerged that it was investigating Blackwell’s claims.

Blackwell’s contract wasn’t renewed

Blackwell served as the team’s recruiting director from 2013-17. He was suspended and subsequently didn’t have his contract renewed after his alleged improper conduct involving an investigation into sexual assaults by Michigan State players. Dantonio was cleared in Michigan State’s investigation into the football program’s actions surrounding the crimes.

As part of his racial discrimination claim, Blackwell cites Michigan State’s longtime employment of now-imprisoned doctor Larry Nassar, who is serving multiple sentences for sexual abuse.

From the News:

On the racial-discrimination claim, Blackwell makes the case that he was let go shortly after MSU was outed for protecting serial molester Dr. Larry Nassar, who is white, "for years." Blackwell also makes the point MSU never hired investigators to look into the years-long Nassar scandal, but was quick to hire the Jones Day law firm to independently investigate the football program's handling of the investigation into four football players and two alleged sexual assaults.

Jones Day cleared all football staffers except Blackwell, who didn't agree to be interviewed by lawyers — making him the "perfect fall guy," according to this latest filing. Blackwell, meanwhile, alleges Dantonio was incorrectly cleared of wrongdoing because he never reported the January 2017 sexual-assault allegations to MSU Police, and instead only contacted the Office of Institutional Equity. An OIE staffer contacted MSU Police on Dantonio's behalf.

Last week, lawyers for Michigan State and Dantonio accused Blackwell of “abuse of process” in the federal case. A federal judge even asked Blackwell’s team in a hearing how the allegations of NCAA violations helped his case.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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