EAST LANSING (WJBK) - EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Three Michigan State University football players are suspended from team activities and removed from on-campus housing as part of a sexual assault investigation.
The school says in a release Thursday that a staff member associated with the football program also has been suspended.
Police are expected to forward reports in the case to prosecutors for possible criminal charges.
The school says the complaint was made late last month. Names of the players were not released, but the school says it is retaining a law firm to conduct an investigation into "football program staff members' compliance with university policy in connection with the allegations."
A Title IX consultant also has been retained to conduct a separate investigation. That probe will address whether MSU's Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy was violated.
The student-athletes were suspended from team activities and removed on-campus housing during the Title IX investigation, said Jason Cody, MSU spokesperson.
In a statement from the university: “Michigan State University Police is investigating allegations of sexual assault against three MSU student-athletes. The police department has been in communication with the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, and upon concluding the investigations will forward its reports for review for possible criminal charges.
"The university also is conducting a Title IX investigation of the sexual assault allegations. Title IX consultant Rebecca Veidlinger has been retained to conduct this investigation, which will address whether MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy was violated. She will report her findings to the Office of Institutional Equity.
"The three student-athletes under investigation have been suspended from team activities and removed from on-campus housing pending the conclusion of the police and Title IX investigations.
"As part of the criminal investigation, detectives are interviewing members of the coaching staff and other relevant individuals regarding their response since the complaint was made in late January.
"Separate from the criminal and Title IX investigations, the university administration is retaining an external law firm to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into football program staff members’ compliance with university policy in connection with the allegations.
"MSU will take prompt action, if appropriate, in response to any policy violations or other substantive matters as a result of the investigation. One staff member associated with the football program has been suspended by the Athletics Department pending the completion of that investigation.
"Michigan State University has made significant strides in making its Title IX program align with the best practices developed throughout the nation. Sexual violence is abhorrent, and no member of our community should be threatened in this way. MSU has been proactive in education and prevention efforts and is strongly committed to fostering an environment that encourages sexual assault reporting and supports victims.
"Every employee has a clear responsibility to follow the university’s well-established reporting protocols regarding sexual assault. MSU will not tolerate failure to follow established reporting protocols, interference with law enforcement efforts, or lack of cooperation with any Title IX investigation.”
Athletic Director Mark Hollis released the following statement:
“The core values of MSU Athletics are clear, consistently communicated and non-negotiable. Among them are respect for self and others, accountability for actions and choices, and integrity. Sexual assault is unacceptable, and members of MSU Athletics who fail to uphold our standards for creating a culture that is safe, supportive, and responsive to those affected by it will be held accountable. My expectation of all members of the department is full and complete cooperation with all investigations.
We have a strong athletics program at MSU, one based on values, traditions, and an understanding that as Spartans we are part of something bigger. Our promise to current and future student-athletes and to the entire Spartan community is to take the steps necessary, based on the facts determined through thorough review, to run this program according to the highest values and standards.”