Ex-Michigan State football staffer files lawsuit alleging discrimination, Spartans filmed opponent

A new lawsuit was filed in Wayne County (Michigan) Circuit Court by former Michigan State assistant and recruiting coordinator Curtis Blackwell on Tuesday. The suit alleges that he was discriminated against upon his firing and that representatives of the program secretly recorded closed practices of at least one upcoming, out-of-state opponent. According to Detroit News, Blackwell is claiming breach of contract claim and violations of the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. He is already suing Michigan State and former coach Mark Dantonio in federal court.

The racial discrimination claim centers around an investigation by Michigan State into how the football program — which included Blackwell — handled sexual assault allegations against three football players in 2017. He is claiming that the school immediately started an investigation into the incident yet delayed an investigation into molestation allegations into former staffer Dr. Larry Nassar. Blackwell was not charged with a crime but was briefly accused by campus police of obstructing an investigation.

The lawsuit also claims that Dantonio forced Blackwell to record at least one opponent’s practice, according to ESPN. The suit claims that Blackwell was directed by Dantonio on condition of his employment to violate the civil and/or criminal laws of another state by making (or directing the creation of) an audio or video recording of another person without consent and with the intent to invade their privacy. The lawsuit does not specify which team or teams had practices illegally recorded. 

Blackwell claims that his objection to this and requirements by the staff to provide improper benefits to the families of prospects and illegally contact players at other schools in an attempt to get them to transfer to Michigan State led to his dismissal following the 2016 season.

No dollar figure is listed in the lawsuit filed by Blackwell. The former staffer is, however, seeking more than $5 million in the wrongful termination and wrongful arrest lawsuit in federal court. 

Dantonio abruptly resigned on Feb. 4, during which time athletic director Bill Beekman denied Blackwell’s claims.

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