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Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon resigns amid criticism over Larry Nassar case

Simon to retire this week due to fallout from Larry Nassar case

Lou Anna K. Simon (WDIV)
Lou Anna K. Simon (WDIV)

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon announced her resignation as criticism about the school's handling of the Larry Nassar case continues to pour in, according to an MSU administrative source.

Here is Simon's full resignation letter:

"The last year and a half has been very difficult for the victims of Larry Nassar, for the university community, and for me personally. To the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment. I know that we all share the same resolve to do whatever it takes to avert such tragedies here and elsewhere.

"As you and many in the Spartan family know, I planned to retire in December 2016, and we had begun a conversation about a smooth transition. Then the Indianapolis Star article appeared about USAG and one of the victims contacted MSU police to file a complaint. The MSU Police investigation commenced. Nassar’s employment was terminated shortly thereafter. Work began within the HealthTeam and other areas of the university to improve safety. Given the challenges, my transition was postponed. I appreciate the support you provided. 

"The survivors’ accounts are horrific. They are tragic, heartbreaking, and personally gut-wrenching. I take solace that many victims have indicated that the opportunity to confront Nassar is a step toward healing. I am proud of the exceptional work of the Special Victims Unit led by Lieutenant Andrea Munford with the steadfast leadership of Chief Dunlap. I am proud of my support of their work even though the results have been very painful to all who watched.

"As Nassar’s legal journey to prison was drawing to a close, more and more negative attention was focused on Michigan State University, and on me. I am pleased that statements have been made by Mr. Fitzgerald and Board members about my integrity and the fact that there is no cover-up. I support wholeheartedly the Board’s decision to ask the Attorney General’s Office to review the events surrounding the Nassar matter. This is an important step toward providing more assurance to the university community and to the public. In the past, I have provided assurances to the Attorney General of my full cooperation, and I will continue to do so.

"As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements.  Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first. Throughout my career, I have consistently and persistently spoken and worked on behalf of Team MSU. I have tried to make it not about me. I urge those who have supported my work to understand that I cannot make it about me now. Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as president according to the terms of my employment agreement.

"Anyone who knows me knows I am a principled person. I have spent my entire professional career, more than 40 years, at MSU. I love this place. I have watched it grow and prosper, and it has been the honor and privilege of my life to serve as its president since 2005, and over the last few years, to have the opportunity to work with all of you toward our shared goals for MSU. I will continue to do whatever I can to help MSU prosper in the future as a Spartan in whatever role I may play.

Respectfully,

Lou Anna K. Simon, President
John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor
"

Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing young athletes. Over seven days of sentencing, 156 women delivered victim-impact statements.

Simon and Michigan State University have taken heavy criticism for the handling of Nassar's tenure at the school. Nassar began working as a gymnastics team physician and assistant professor at MSU in 1997 and wasn't fired until September 2016.

Over the course of those two decades, multiple victims say they alerted university officials about Nassar's abuse.

Simon's resignation comes amid an NCAA investigation into the Nassar case. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is also looking into the school's handling of the case.

Here is a statement from Brian Breslin, of the MSU Board of Trustees:

"President Simon has offered her resignation to the Board of Trustees, and we will accept it. We agree with Dr. Simon that it is now time for change.

"President Simon has served with distinction as MSU’s President for 13 years and has been a constant presence at the university for more than 40 years. She literally has devoted her entire professional life to this institution, and more than anyone else has helped make MSU a national and international leader in higher education.

"We will be working through the details of transition with President Simon through the rest of the week and will announce them as soon as we can. Many are aware President Simon delayed returning to the faculty to lead through the challenges the university has been facing. We greatly appreciate her integrity, her many contributions, and her willingness to continue to serve through transition."

Sen. Jim Ananich released the following statement:

"This is a necessary step to take in order for the university to begin seriously addressing a broken system that allowed more than 160 young women to be sexually assaulted by a university employee.

"Survivors deserve to be heard. Survivors also deserve assurance that the people in charge of their education and safety—all the way to the very top—will be held accountable."

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard released the following statement:

"I am glad Lou Anna Simon finally did the right thing.  The university's response to this crisis simply hasn't been good enough, and I hope that changes going forward for the sake of both the victims and the entire Michigan State University community.  I look forward to working with the new interim president throughout the House’s inquiry and the state budget process to help the university be transparent about what happened over the past 20 years and to improve its Title IX procedures in order to better protect students."

House Democratic leader Sam Singh released the following statement:

"Tonight’s decision by Lou Anna Simon to resign, while difficult, is the right one. With it, our community began the important process of moving forward. Under new leadership, the university must make the necessary changes to ensure something like this never happens again and provide every level of support to the survivors so that they, the institution and our community can begin to heal."

Faculty athletic representative resigns

The faculty athletic representative of Michigan State University submitted her resignation Wednesday.

Sue Carter sent a letter to Simon saying she no longer has the desire or the heart to support the administration.

"As a professor and priest, I am profoundly saddened by Michigan State University's public posture and seemingly callous regard for these girls and women," Carter said in the letter.

You can read the full resignation letter below.

Michigan State trustee calls university 'tone deaf'

A Michigan State trustee released a statement Wednesday slamming the university's handling of the Nassar case.

Trustee Dianne Byrum called MSU "tone deaf, unresponsive, unapologetic and insensitive to the victims."

Byrum also said she would support Simon's resignation.

Here is the full statement:

"It is clear that the public has lost confidence in the current administration of Michigan State University, and changes are needed to move the university forward.

"First, I support the resignation of President Simon, effective immediately, and I support the investigation by the Attorney General that will provide a full accounting of what happened and take an important step toward restoring trust, which has understandably been shaken.

"Second, I am disgusted by the abhorrent comments made earlier this week by Trustee Joel Ferguson, who does not speak for other members of the MSU Board in any way.

"Unfortunately, through this terrible situation, the university has been tone deaf, unresponsive, unapologetic and insensitive to the victims. As a woman who has always fought for womens’ rights and victims’ rights, and encouraged women in all areas, it is deeply troubling to me that so much pain and suffering has been caused by my alma mater.

"A full public accounting, top to bottom, is long overdue and I support it, along with a change in the current administration and a change to the culture at Michigan State University. We owe it to the victims, the public and ourselves to do the right thing and let the healing begin."

MSU receives letter from NCAA

Michigan State received the following letter from the NCAA on Jan. 23, 2018 in regards to the Nassar case. 

NEW: Larry Nassar sentenced 40 to 175 years in prison

The letter is addressed to university Athletics Director Mark Hollis:

Hollis offered this response: 

"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. 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 university general counsel offices are preparing a comprehensive response. Michigan State University will cooperate with any investigation."

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