The current movement of student-athletes speaking out against racial inequalities within college athletics has prompted a former Michigan State starĀ  to open up about his experience in East Lansing.

Andre Rison, who was a wide receiver at Michigan State in the 1980s shared a story with ESPN regarding a negative experience he had with an assistant coach. Rison had been keeping this incident secret for some time, but the current climate has given the former Spartan the courage to speak up.

In an interview with ESPN’s Eric Woodyard, Rison said that ex-assistant coach Carl “Buck” Nystrom slapped him in the locker room before a game against Illinois in 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, but ultimately change the living situations of my mom, brother, sisters and family,” Rison said.

At the time, Rison thought it was something student-athletes had to endure to get to the next level. Now, he realizes there was no place for that kind of action.

“When the coach slapped me, the whole room got silent and Mark Ingram Sr. put his arm around me. I shed a tear,” Rison said. “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.

Rison was a star on Michigan State’s team from 1985-88. During his four seasons in East Lansing he caught 146 passes for 2,992 yards and 20 touchdowns. His son, Hunter Rison, played at Michigan State in 2017 before transferring out.

At the time of the incident, George Perles was the head coach at Michigan State. But it was Nick Saban who earned the respect of Rison after the incident.

“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.”