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Michigan State holds spring game; chance to 'move forward,' Mark Dantonio says

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- As Michigan State held its annual spring game surrounded by the uncertainty of a sexual assault investigation involving the program, coach Mark Dantonio said he thought the scrimmage was an important opportunity to "step into the light" and make a public appearance.

"I think we needed to move forward," Dantonio said when asked why he decided to play Saturday's game in front of a Spartan Stadium crowd of more than 10,000. "I told our players the other day we were going to step into the light. Time marches on. This is a big program. It's a serious situation and all that, but we need to move forward. Our players deserve it, and our fans deserve it."

The Spartans have held their spring practices behind closed doors this year while waiting for the results of a sexual assault investigation involving at least three players and one staff member.

Fifteen of the 86 players listed on the Michigan State roster were not in uniform for Saturday's game. Dantonio said he didn't want to address the specific reasons for any of their absences but later said star running back LJ Scott missed the game and all of spring practice because of offseason surgery.

Scott was the Spartans' leading rusher in each of his first two seasons in East Lansing. He ran for 994 yards and six touchdowns in 2016 and had a procedure shortly after the season.

"We're not going to play him this spring," Dantonio said. "He's to a point where he's physically close to being ready, but he had surgeries."

Three of the players missing from the game have been suspended since Feb. 9 while police investigate an alleged sexual assault that occurred in an on-campus apartment. Dantonio and the university have not named the players. Police have requested four arrest warrants as a result of their investigation, but no charges have been filed.

Dantonio said earlier in the week that he would not comment on the situation or any members of his program who might be involved until the legal process plays out.