·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

NCAA Launches Investigation into Michigan State University and Larry Nassar

— January 24, 2018

The NCAA has opened an investigation into Michigan State University and its handling of the accusations piled up against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Nassar has pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct. He’s been accused of molesting and assaulting over a hundred athletes throughout his career, including members of the U.S. Olympic team.

According to CNN, Nassar’s alleged victims include the likes of Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney. Several of the high-profile gymnasts either delivered or wrote victim impact statements, which have been read or repeated in court over the course of the past week.

Announcing its impending investigation, the NCAA said it was checking to see whether Michigan State had violated any rules.

“The NCAA has sent a letter of inquiry to Michigan State University regarding potential NCAA violations related to the assaults Larry Nassar perpetrated against girls and young women, including some student-athletes at Michigan State,” read an NCAA statement.

Details about what the investigation would entail weren’t elaborated upon.

Michigan State came up with its own response to the announcement quickly, stating that it would “cooperate” with the NCAA.

The school’s athletic director, Mark Hollis, said MSU would “cooperate with any investigation.”

“Since my first day on the job as athletic director, my focus has always been on the student-athlete. They are at the core of our athletic department mission-statement,” said Hollis. “Our first priority has always been and will always be their health and safety. In regards to the letter we received from the NCAA last night, the athletic compliance and universal general counsel offices are preparing a comprehensive response.”

Nassar was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison on Wednesday. Image via MaxPixel. CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).

The Nassar scandal has, meanwhile, shaken Michigan State’s longstanding administration. Legislators, students, and some university trustees have urged MSU President Lou Anna Simon to step down from her post immediately.

While Simon didn’t actively enable Nassar, some allege that she ignored important warning signs and allowed the physician to practice even after being informed of outstanding complaints. Among those hoping for an ouster are two U.S. senators and a plurality in the Michigan House of Representatives.

In a 96-11 vote on Wednesday, lawmakers led by Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) passed a non-binding resolution calling on Simon to resign immediately.

“We have lost confidence in the ability of Lou Anna K. Simon to lead a transparent investigation, to implement changes that will ensure it never happens again, to protect students, and to lead Michigan State University forward,” said the resolution’s text.

Shortly after the resolution was passed, MSU Trustee Dianne Byrum voiced her support, saying, “It’s clear the public has lost confidence in the current administration.”

At a higher level, both of Michigan’s U.S. senators – Debbie Stabenow (D) and Gary Peters (D) – issued separate statements Wednesday, urging Simon to vacate her post. Stabenow wrote that Simon’s ouster “would be in the best interest of these courageous survivors, their families and our state.”

The announcements and calls for resignation come only days after the Michigan State Board of Trustees reaffirmed their support for Simon, saying she was the “right leader” for the university.


Larry Nassar Sentencing: ‘I Just Signed Your Death Warrant’

Mich. House, second trustee urge MSU’s Simon to resign

Michigan judge sentences Larry Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting athletes

NCAA investigating Michigan State over Larry Nassar case

N.C.A.A. Opens Investigation of Michigan State Over Nassar Case

Join the conversation!