Former MSU Football Star Andre Rison Says He Was Struck By Coach

"When the coach slapped me, the whole room got silent."

97.1 The Ticket
July 06, 2020 - 3:05 pm

For most of his athletic career at Michigan State, Andre Rison kept a dark secret. 

The star wide receiver, who was also on the basketball and indoor track teams, told ESPN that former assistant football coach Carl Nystrom struck him before a game against Illinois in the 1986 season. Rison was a sophomore at the time. 

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"When the coach slapped me, the whole room got silent and Mark Ingram Sr. put his arm around me," Rison told ESPN. "I shed a tear. I had never been struck by a grown man. Not by my grandfather, not by my father -- who wasn't in my life a lot -- but I just had never been struck by any man, and then I had never been struck by a white man, for sure. For a long time, I just held it in.

"I played basketball at Michigan State and I also made All-Big Ten in indoor track, and I thought it was part of the culture of trying to get to the next level." 

Rison was a four-year letterman in football under former head coach George Perles and a key contributor on the team that won the Rose Bowl in 1988. He went on to a 12-year career in the NFL, including four Pro Bowl seasons with the Falcons.

Nystrom was an All-American guard for the Spartans in the 1950s who later returned as a coach and was inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014. 

"That man had no right to hit me," Rison said. "I never told my mom. I never told anybody. The only people that really knew were our whole team and all the coaches. Nick Saban was on that staff. He was one of the ones that came to me and consulted me. That's why I respect him to this day." 

Rison, 53, is also a member of the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame, but the Flint native said he doesn't feel welcome on campus in East Lansing.