Days after Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon claimed in her resignation letter that “there is no cover-up” regarding allegations of sexual misconduct by Larry Nassar, ESPN is reporting otherwise. According to a lengthy investigation conducted by Outside the Lines, “a pattern of widespread denial, inaction and information suppression of such allegations by officials ranging from campus police to the Spartan athletic department” has existed for decades. Much of this has to do with Nassar, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for his crimes, but it also extends to other sports programs.
Suggesting that the otherwise horrible Nassar case had become “politicized,” Simon insisted that claims of a cover-up were unfounded. What’s more, the school claimed it hadn’t known about Nassar’s alleged behavior until 2016. Yet as the Detroit News (and others) have reported, officials have been aware of the accusations since the late ’90s. To make matters worse, EPSN’s report cites evidence of university oversight in the Nassar case, as well as others pertaining to the football program, throughout the past two decades:
“Over the past three years, MSU has three times fought in court — unsuccessfully — to withhold names of athletes in campus police records. The school has also deleted so much information from some incident reports that they were nearly unreadable. In circumstances in which administrators have commissioned internal examinations to review how they have handled certain sexual violence complaints, officials have been selective in releasing information publicly.”
In addition to Nassar’s sports medicine practice at MSU, the football and basketball programs headed by coaches Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo respectively were also replete with instances of sexual misconduct accusations and subsequent cover-ups. “Since Dantonio’s tenure began in 2007, at least 16 MSU football players have been accused of sexual assault or violence against women,” Outside the Lines reported. As for Isso’s program, ESPN found several unreported instances involving a former student-assistant coach who punched a female student at a bar and allegedly sexually assaulted another.