Curtis Blackwell: New lawsuit alleges Michigan State football violations
Former Michigan State football recruiting director Curtis Blackwell filed a lawsuit this week against former Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio, alleging, among other things, that he was fired because he is black and that Dantonio illegally and secretly taped practices of an opposing team.
Blackwell, who is already suing Dantonio and other school officials in federal court, filed the new lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court on Monday night.
“If plaintiff was Caucasian, rather than African American, he would not have been suspended and/or terminated and/not had his contract renewed by these defendants,” Blackwell’s lawyers wrote, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Looking for an unspecified monetary judgment, Blackwell is suing Dantonio for breach of contract and violations of Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, a law established prohibiting racial discrimination.
In the new lawsuit, Blackwell also claims that in addition to taping practices, Dantonio required the forming recruiting director to undergo tasks that violated NCAA rules, including soliciting improper benefits for family members of recruits and taking part in tampering by contacting players enrolled at other schools in a recruitment effort.
Blackwell alleged this week that his refusal to take part in some of Dantonio’s request were part of the reason his contract was not renewed in the spring of 2017.
Blackwell held his position under Dantonio from 2013 until his contract was allowed to expire on May 31, 2017, following two one-month extensions.
He was suspended Feb. 9 of that year after being arrested by MSU Police and accused of obstructing an investigation into sexual assault allegations against three then-MSU football players. Blackwell was released and never charged.
A number of the claims Blackwell made in the new state lawsuit filed this week are part of the former Spartans’ ongoing federal lawsuit against Dantonio, former athletic director Mark Hollis, former president Lou Anna Simon and two university police detectives for wrongful termination and unlawful arrest.
Dantonio cited “philosophical change” after Blackwell’s contract was allowed to expire. The former head coach also cited a change in the program’s direction with the position during his Jan. 10 deposition in the federal case.
Blackwell was replaced on the football staff by Sheldon White, who is black.
Dantonio retired from the school on Feb. 4, 2020. He was replaced by former Colorado head coach Mel Tucker.