CHICAGO -- Michigan State linebacker Jon Reschke, who made racially insensitive comments about a teammate in January 2017 and left the program soon after, is back on the Spartans roster and may return this season.
Coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday that Reschke, a starter in 2015, is taking the necessary steps toward a return this season but has permanently lost his scholarship. Dantonio said he's largely leaving Reschke's status up to the players.
"I talked to our football team and our players and said, 'Hey, if you guys want him back, then you have to bring him back,'" Dantonio said Tuesday. "It has to be a decision made by our African-American players, led by them, and they have to support that."
In a February 2017 statement announcing his decision to transfer from Michigan State, Reschke apologized for an "insensitive and totally regrettable comment involving a former teammate. In so doing, I have hurt and offended countless number of people, and for that, I am deeply sorry. If I could take my comment back, I would do so in a second."
Reschke ultimately did not leave for another program and suffered a knee injury that kept him out for the 2017 season. He received approval for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, citing the injuries he had in both 2016, when he appeared in just two games, and 2017. Reschke has 101 career tackles playing for MSU between 2014 and 2016.
Dantonio brought up the idea of Reschke's return to the team in January and has checked in with players each month. Reschke participated in some of the team's offseason conditioning program.
"I'm hopefully allowing healing to take place among our players," Dantonio said. "We'll take a step-by-step approach. He's not on scholarship, nor will he be on scholarship. He paid the ultimate price by being out of football for a year."
Dantonio later added: "All indications from our players are they do want him in camp."
Michigan State running back LJ Scott told reporters that Reschke's comment was a "heat-of-the-moment" mistake. He said the entire team voted on whether to allow him back and then the African-American players held a separate vote. Both votes were unanimous to allow him back on the team.