MSU Scrambles to Respond to Assault Allegations | Athletic Business

MSU Scrambles to Respond to Assault Allegations

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis has cancelled his trip planned in his capacity as NCAA Tournament selection committee chair. Hollis was expected to lead the committee from the road on a 12-day, cross-country expedition to watch college basketball games in 12 states.

Instead, Hollis will be dealing with a disaster at home, where three MSU football players have been suspended from team activities and evicted from campus housing under accusations of sexual assault. MSU announced the police investigation on Thursday.

The athletic department has also suspended a staff member from the football program, pending investigation. MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo told The Daily Astorian that Hollis had been looking forward to the trip, but will continue to lead the selection committee from East Lansing.

Michigan State women's gymnastics coach Kathy Klages was also suspended from MSU on Monday, two weeks after being named in a lawsuit against former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar. Klages is said to have downplayed complaints of sexual abuse.

Nassar is being sued by more than two dozen women under allegations of molestation during treatments. Klages, though not a defendant in the suit, was implicated by one woman who claims that the coach discouraged her from voicing her complaints about Nassar in 1997-1998.

According to the suit, Klages, then a coach for the MSU youth program, “explained that she had known Nassar for years and could not imagine him doing anything questionable.” Klages then warned that a formal complaint ''would have serious consequences'' for everyone involved.

The plaintiff says that she was left feeling afraid and ashamed, and did not take the complaint further at that time. She also alleges that she was again molested by Nassar when she saw him for back pain later that same day.

Nassar is facing civil lawsuits in Michigan and elsewhere, as well as criminal charges in association with an assault that took place at his home in the Lansing area and for possession of child pornography. He has so far denied all allegations.

Related: Texas Authorities Investigating Gymnastics Abuse Case

Nassar was fired from MSU in September and is in jail without bond. Attorney Jamie White, who is suing Nassar and MSU on behalf of a current athlete, told Sports Illustrated, ''It's good to see the university is taking some steps in the right direction, but they have a long way to go.''

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