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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Report: Luke Fickell had concerns about Michigan State campus culture

Luke Fickell

The off-field turmoil that has engulfed Michigan State over the past few years is apparently hindering the team’s coaching search.

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell was the Spartans’ top candidate for the role. Michigan State interviewed Fickell on Sunday and made it clear that the job was his if he wanted it. According to David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press, Fickell and his wife Amy had significant concerns about the Michigan State campus culture, and that played a role in Fickell’s decision to turn down the job and stay at Cincinnati.

Michigan State was aware of Fickell’s reservations and sent senior associate athletic director for compliance Jennifer Smith along to the interview to try to deal with the coach’s concerns but was unsuccessful in doing so.

The years of controversy that have surrounded Michigan State are clearly weighing on the school. While the Larry Nassar scandal is not related to the football program, it has cast a shadow on the university since 2016 and led to the resignation of former president Lou Anna Simon. There have also been reports about widespread sexual assaults within the football and basketball programs, and former football coach Mark Dantonio was the subject of a lawsuit that alleged multiple NCAA rules violations. With all that in mind, it’s not really a huge surprise that the school is struggling to attract high-quality coaching talent as the search goes on.

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