By Ken Reed
Michigan State trustee Joel Ferguson somehow appears to believe that the ugly sex scandal involving team doctor/master pervert Larry Nassar is just another issue at the university. In a recent interview, he seemed to think that “this Nassar thing” could be neutralized by the fact the school’s president, Lou Anna Simon, had done a good job finding major donors for the school’s sparkling basketball palace, the Breslin Center.
“There’s so many more things going on at the university than just this Nassar thing,” said Ferguson.
“When you go to the basketball game, you walk into the new Breslin, and the person who hustled and got all those major donors to give money was Lou Anna Simon.”
What? Are you serious Mr. Ferguson? You can brush off the largest sexual assault scandal in American sports history — more than 150 victims — that easily?
Ferguson also said in the interview that Simon had the full support of the rest of the Michigan State board of trustees as well. This despite the fact that the board had to be aware of a Detroit News report that Simon and other MSU officials had been notified that the U.S. Dept. of Education was investigating complaints against Nassar as early as 2014. Simon never even asked to see a copy of the investigators report.
Also, it’s been reported that 14 Michigan State officials were told about Nassar’s sexual abuse activities. No action was taken. (Simon, thanks in no part to the school’s board of trustees, resigned yesterday amid protests from faculty and students.)
The avoidance behavior utilized to protect an organization’s PR image and bottom line was apparently replicated by USA Gymnastics during Nassar’s reign of terror. According to multiple reports, USA Gymnastics officials also ignored or covered up Nassar’s sexual assault activities.
Larry Nassar was a sick puppy. His behavior is sickening. But the lack of action by Michigan State and USA Gymnastics coaches and officials while this monster continued to prey on young girls and women is every bit as sickening. (Thank goodness Rachael Denhollander, a former gymnast under Nassar’s “care,” had the courage to start the movement that has resulted in Nassar basically being sentenced to life in prison.)
Sadly, people in power, with the responsibility to protect others, too often find it impossible to do the right thing.
New policies and procedures need to be enacted by youth, high school and college sports organizations after this ugly scandal to help ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. But the thing is, Michigan State had policies and procedures on the books that could’ve stopped Nassar a lot sooner. But those policies and procedures appear to have been ignored by MSU coaches and administrators.
If people in power and responsibility lack an ethical and moral compass, all the policies and procedures in the world won’t protect the vulnerable.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.