Andre Rison is tired of keeping a secret amid numerous social injustice and racial equality issues centered on Black people in America.
Rison, a former Michigan State All-American and NFL All-Pro, alleges that when he was a sophomore at MSU, assistant coach Carl “Buck” Nystrom struck him in the locker room before a game at Illinois on Oct. 18, 1986.
“Back then, you just thought it was part of being tough and being a football player that wanted to make it to the National Football League [and] ultimately change the living situations of my mom, brother, sisters and family,” Rison told ESPN.
He added: “When the coach slapped me, the whole room got silent, and Mark Ingram Sr. put his arm around me. 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 at Michigan State in indoor track, and I thought it was part of the culture of trying to get to the next level,” he said. “Also, I was fresh off watching ‘Roots’ as a kid and listening to how slavery was. We were real close to [having learned] that, but not like this generation of professional athletes, so that’s why I commend them for how they stand up and protest and the way they do for racial change.
“For me, myself, being in an interracial relationship, in a marriage of 15 years, I love my wife, and it doesn’t matter what color you are and what race you come from, because we’re all human.”
Nystrom was an All-America player at MSU in the 1950s before returning as an assistant coach. He entered the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014, and his son, Kyle, is the head football coach at Northern Michigan University.
Despite repeated attempts by ESPN, representatives from Northern Michigan and Michigan State didn’t respond to requests for comment. Coach Kyle Nystrom also didn’t respond to numerous ESPN inquiries.
“That man had no right to hit me. I never told my mom. I never told anybody,” Rison said. “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. I don’t have to call Nick Saban every day and knock his door down, but Nick Saban offered my son a scholarship [to Alabama], and that was fair to me. That was fair and was all I ever asked for. I love Nick. I love Nick like a father figure.”
Rison, 53, lives in Michigan but says he doesn’t feel welcome on campus in East Lansing, despite being a member of the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame and contributor to the 1988 Rose Bowl title.
His son, Hunter, left Michigan State in 2018, after his freshman season, to find more playing time at Kansas State. He was arrested on a domestic battery charge and suspended in April 2019. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge.
He has since transferred to Fullerton College, a junior college program in California, where he scored seven touchdowns with 604 receiving yards in seven games this past season.