Report Published: The Constellation of Factors Underlying Larry Nassar's Abuse of Athletes

Submitted by You Only Live Twice on December 13th, 2018 at 11:23 AM

The law firm of Ropes & Gray released its full report following their investigation of Larry Nassar on December 10th.  It is TL/DR material (250 pages including references) and it is impressive work.  A few notes:

First, it is a true independent report, as the authors explain.  There are no conflicts and the law firm does not represent any of the people or institutions being investigated.

Second, as the report title states, there was a "constellation of factors" that combined to create the universe in which Nassar operated.  The authors investigated every solar system in that universe which provides a complete accounting of the people and institutions involved.  Included are timeline references that underscore not just how people in these systems failed, but when.  

Third, the report gives the best description I have ever read, anyway, about the world of competitive gymnastics.   It's difficult for an outsider to appreciate these facts and it casts a bright light on understanding how horrific events can happen, and not even in isolation.  Nassar committed thousands of assaults on hundreds of victims.

Fourth, it certainly provides a deeper reassurance, to me anyway, that Michigan does not function in the same manner.  I don't intend to state, and would never make the claim, that awful things don't happen everywhere.  They do.   Michigan has certainly had to learn some painful lessons in the past.  However, the Michigan community benefits from a strong compliance structure and from inner criticisms - the very opposite of the wagon-circling approach we saw from MSU, OSU, PSU.  We also have a healthy separation between the President and the Athletic Department.

For those inclined, it is worth a read, or even a skim.

Here is a link to the site where you can download the full report:  




December 13th, 2018 at 1:17 PM ^

Will not have time to read--not eager to wade into that mess again--but would like to hear what the recommendations were, and if they included further punishment or exile for key figures. Because the aftermath has so far been distinguished by a lack of rolling heads. 

Also curious as to what the scope of the authors' remit really was--there was clearly a still-wider culture of abuse that took in other parts of the university and sports. Would not expect the report to fully assess these but--to be legitimate, of use--underline connections. Because the long-term question for anyone whose daughter might attend is and will remain: is MSU in the process of real change? Change of a kind that will keep young women there safe?

In the end those in charge have not just done MSU's young women and alumni but themselves a terrible disservice. Several admirable programs notwithstanding, without its couple of to-now successful sports programs MSU isn't up to much, has limited impact in the world of academics. It's unfortunate that the names of our two universities even share a word. I've seen people cry for the place to be burned down here and on other other message boards; they burned it down themselves. An Engler at the helm there is the definition of "Pyrrhic victory."

You Only Live Twice

December 13th, 2018 at 1:59 PM ^

So the purpose of the report was to document, in a systematic way, the failures, from MSU, the police, the FBI, US Olympics...rather than make recommendations.  There is ample material for compliance departments to use in order to safeguard their students and institutions.  MSU notably and publicly failed to take ownership, continuing to deny and obfuscate, even as Simon, Strempel, and Klages have been arrested.  At some point they have to move past the albatross that is Engler and take concrete remedial actions.  

To your point about the name... yes, it might less important in the scheme of things but a source of irritation nevertheless, to anyone with friends, colleagues, business partners, etc. from other countries especially, who don't realize MSU is not Michigan... and you have to explain.


December 13th, 2018 at 3:01 PM ^

Another brick in the evidence wall that the major problem with youth sport is adults. 

I would love to see similar investigative reports detailing the culture of other major youth and Olympic sports in this country. 

Closer to home,  I would like to see our cherished institution have an independent watchdog continuously monitoring the culture of our various sports.

I don't think an Athletic Office of Compliance is independent enough for this important audit/oversight mission.  Look no further than OSU, PSU, MSU for evidence.  

S.G. Rice

December 13th, 2018 at 3:22 PM ^

My B.S. detector usually goes off when someone claims to issue a "completely independent" report, but I'm going to hope that it's truly the case here.  Looking forward to reading it.

You Only Live Twice

December 13th, 2018 at 4:01 PM ^

That is an interesting summary - the Mlive story downplays MSU involvement, calling it "tangential" and then not mentioning any of the details from the report.

Tangential?  Not at all, the report makes it clear that MSU knew what was going on as early as 1997 and continued to enable Nassar at every reporting point after!

BTB grad

December 13th, 2018 at 9:00 PM ^

The main reason this won't happen at Michigan: the University of Michigan is an elite academic institution to which the Athletic Dept is a complement. U-M is renowned, well-known, and highly visible as an academic institution alone. At MSU, OSU, and PSU, those schools' sports programs define their schools, help put the universities in the spotlight, and drive the number of undergraduate applications. U-M does not need the Athletic Dept the way those schools do. So this negates the need for covering things up and not immediately tackling big issues and airing them out immediately (see the number of players Harbaugh has booted hastily).


December 13th, 2018 at 9:28 PM ^

Just read the whole report and it was worth the time. USGA and the USOC come off as being run by individuals whose sole purpose was to CYA, but only after the Indianapolis Star had published their report. Nassar is a total con man with no conscience - no surprise there. MSU was not mentioned as much as the other two groups but after reading this report, Kathy Klages should rot in jail for what she did (or didn't) do. Very eye opening expose' on the what happens in children's sports when NO ONE does the right thing.