Michigan State president steps down following Nassar scandal - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Michigan State president steps down following Nassar scandal

Lou Anna Simon resigned from president at Michigan State University on Wednesday (Source: AP Images) Lou Anna Simon resigned from president at Michigan State University on Wednesday (Source: AP Images)

Michigan State University's President Lou Anna Simon submitted her resignation Wednesday following the controversy surrounding how the school handled accusations against Larry Nassar.

Simon's announcement came hours after the sentencing for Nassar, who was convicted for molesting young girls and women while working at Michigan State as a doctor.

The Latest: Lawmaker: Simon's resignation 'important step'

The resignation letter was posted on the school's website.

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.

Nassar was sentenced Wednesday for up to 175 years in prison. Over 160 women spoke directly to Nassar during his sentencing hearing that lasted seven days.

Gymnastics doctor sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison

During the victim impact statements, many of Nassar's victims directed blame towards the university for mishandling past complaints about Nassar.

A Title IX investigation conducted by the university cleared Nassar of sexual assault allegations in 2014. A Michigan State University police report indicated that as least 12 other reported sexual assaults occurred after the probe ended. Michigan State officials have denied accusations the school covered up misconduct by school administrators.

Rachael Denhollander was one of the first victims to accuse Nassar of inappropriate sexual misconduct. She was the last victim to provide a powerful statement in court during Nassar's sentencing. 

"President Simon and board of trustees, is this the right way to handle disclosures of abuse on MSU’s campus?," asked Denhollander.

Simon took over as school president in 2005. The university is facing dozens of lawsuits from women who say school officials wrote off complaints about Nassar, who also worked with USA Gymnastics.

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