The Larry Nassar case has quickly become college sports’s biggest, ugliest scandal since the Jerry Sandusky fiasco at the early part of this decade. The longtime professor at MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and sports physician for the Spartans (he also held the same job for USA Gymnastics) has been accused of a long, systematic career of sexually assaulting young women while on the job for Michigan State — and not only that, but that Michigan State higher-ups were aware of Nassar’s behavior and did nothing.
Nassar’s trial — he pleaded guilty to more than 100 counts of sexual abuse of girls and young women — is in the sentencing phase now, where victim after victim has come forward to recount their abuse at his hands. You’ve probably seen Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman‘s testimony by now.
Michigan State’s Board of Trustees announced Friday that Lou Anna Simon would remain on as school president despite the school’s reported knowledge of Nassar’s crimes and the school being named alongside Nassar in a civil lawsuit. The Nassar scandal has cost Michigan State $10 million and counting thus far.
“As part of the Board’s oversight authority, we will retain independent external assistance to support our responsibilities to the university community and the public at large,” the board said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press. “We continue to believe President Simon is the right leader for the university and she has our support.”
Though one Trustee has since called for president Lou Anna Simon‘s immediate resignation, she remains in place today. Which means Mark Dantonio has to talk about her.
As one of the two highest-profile employees — sitting alongside men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo — on the Michigan State payroll, Dantonio’s support or lack thereof of the school president matters.
And as of now, Dantonio supports Simon.
Speaking at the Michigan high school coach’s clinic in Lansing last week, Dantonio gave this cautious, begrudging statement. Via the Detroit Free Press:
“Well, obviously our hearts go out to the victims in this case. It’s a very, very difficult situation for them. It’s awful. I guess with that said, in 11 years of dealing with President Simon on so many different occasions and in so many different areas, I’ve always found her to be very reflective, very calm in the storm, very on-point. And I’ve always appreciated that about her. She’s much like a head coach. In my little world that I’m in – and I can’t control things at times – I would say she is in a very difficult and delicate situation. I really don’t think that I’m even qualified to talk on it, but I can only speak to my involvement with her and how she’s handled very difficult situations. I think she’s led from that perspective with Mark Dantonio and our football team.”
Though calling for your boss’s firing when the school’s board of trustees would be beyond the norms of the industry, one can imagine how much a call for Simon’s firing by the head coach of the football team would sway public opinion.