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Opinion: More Should Pay for Role in Nassar Scandal

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. "I just signed your death warrant," the judge told him.

In the horror show of the sexual assault of more than 150 young American gymnasts, one good decision has just been made: Former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar will spend the rest of his life locked up after a judge in Michigan sentenced him Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison.

Now it's time for the sports world at large to start doing what it should have done a long time ago and jettison all the so-called sports leaders who knew about Nassar's sexual assault of young athletes and did nothing, or didn't care enough to find out.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon should be the first to go. She said she was informed about a 2014 Title IX complaint and a police report against an unnamed doctor but never received a copy of the report. Apparently, she wasn't curious enough to find out what it was about.

MSU athletics director Mark Hollis should leave right now as well. The Detroit News reported that at least 14 representatives of MSU heard reports from eight women of sexual misconduct by Nassar in the two decades before his arrest and apparently did nothing. Some of these employees were in the athletics department. Some were not.

Hollis has been AD at MSU for 10 years, so not all of this was on his watch. But some of it was. This scandal is so awful and the pain so real that he simply cannot continue in his job.

On their way out the door, Simon and Hollis should take with them every MSU trustee who has voiced support for Simon, especially Joel Ferguson, who said Monday that there was more to worry about at MSU than "just this Nassar thing."

Merrily Dean Baker was the athletics director at Michigan State from 1992 to 1995, two years before Nassar started working on campus. She knows many of the players in this horrible scandal and has been watching in disgust from afar.

"It's just not sufficient to say 'I didn't know,' " she said Wednesday. "It was President Simon's job to know. It was Mark Hollis' job to know. It's that institution's job to know. They failed these women."

On to USA Gymnastics. The former CEO was forced out last year and three top board members were shown the door this week, but that's not enough.

This is the darkest stain in the history of the U.S. Olympic movement. The remaining board members must leave now, and anyone at the national governing body who participated in any way in this atrocious cover-up and gross mismanagement should offer his or her resignation immediately.

Finally, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). On a visceral level, a call to replace the USOC's leadership sounds right, even though that isn't a move that should be made at this time.

There is no evidence its leaders knew what was happening within USA Gymnastics. This is not surprising given the structure of U.S. Olympic sports.

Nonetheless, in a letter to U.S. athletes Wednesday, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun issued an apology while announcing that the USOC was launching an independent investigation of both USA Gymnastics and itself.

That's a good step, although one wonders why this wasn't announced months ago.

Sadly, today's USOC looks like an out-of-touch, antiquated organization unable to grasp the magnitude of this situation until it was over.

The USOC is going to get one chance to get this right, to add new faces and voices to its leadership (the heroic Aly Raisman would be my first choice), and do it now.

The credibility of the U.S. Olympic movement and the safety of its athletes are hanging in the balance.

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January 25, 2018
 
 
 

 

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