EAST LANSING – Former Michigan State player Travis Walton is disputing a report that he was fired by Michigan State while facing a sexual assault allegation.
Walton released a statement on Tuesday in response to an ESPN story last week that reported Walton was allowed to continue coaching with the basketball program after being accused of physical assault and that he was fired by the school after he was subsequently accused of sexual assault.
In that statement, reported by multiple media outlets, Walton says that he was not fired by the school, that he did not physically assault a woman in an East Lansing bar and that he never had nonconsensual sexual relations with a woman who accused him and two other Michigan State players of sexual assault.
“I stand by these facts and I will defend myself to the extent the law allows,” Walton said. “I apologize for the negative attention this has brought my Spartan family, the Clippers organization and my family and friends.”
In February 2010, Walton was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, according to court records. At the time, Walton was serving as a student assistant with the men’s basketball staff while he completed his degree. He finished his playing career in 2009.
ESPN reported that charge stemmed from an incident in an East Lansing bar, where a woman claimed Walton struck her twice in the face during a dispute.
In his statement, Walton said he “never physically assaulted a woman at an East Lansing establishment,” as alleged. He said the woman threw a drink in his face “without provocation” and that he subsequently left the bar. Two witness statements were provided to the East Lansing city attorney corroborating his account, Walton said.
The charge was eventually reduced to littering, a civil infraction. Walton continued his coaching duties while that charge was pending.
In April of that year, a woman made a report to the Michigan State athletic department claiming Walton and two players sexually assaulted her, according to ESPN.
Walton said in his statement that “my encounters with this woman were more than just a single occasion, and my actions with her were always consensual.” He said that he was never criminally charged with sexual assault, and to his knowledge the alleged encounter was never reported to the school.
ESPN reported that Walton was fired from the basketball staff that year. Walton said that Michigan State neither hired nor fired him from its basketball staff and that he left the school to pursue a professional basketball career in Europe.
“I was never hired or fired by Michigan State University,” Walton said. “In January of 2010, I was enrolled at Michigan State University, taking the necessary classes to complete my degree. Upon graduation, I returned to Europe to continue my basketball career.
Asked on Sunday why Walton left the program, Spartans coach Tom Izzo said he couldn’t recall why Walton left the program in 2010.
“To be honest with you, I don’t remember why he left,” Izzo said. “I know he went to Europe to play.”
Walton, currently an assistant coach with the G-League affiliate of the Los Angeles Clippers, was placed on administrative leave last week, according to ESPN.
The allegations against Walton are part of a wide-ranging ESPN report that alleges the school improperly handled multiple sexual assault allegations made against athletes.