MSU Board Gives Simon Vote of Support

Submitted by LongLiveBo on January 19th, 2018 at 7:14 PM

"Through this terrible situation, the university has been perceived as tone-deaf, unresponsive and insensitive to the victims," chairman Brian Breslin said at the end of a nearly five-hour session to discuss the Nassar case. "We understand the public's faith has been shaken. ... This can never happen again. ...

"We continue to believe that President Simon is the right leader for the university, and she has our support."


I hope these people burn.…



January 19th, 2018 at 8:16 PM ^

I suggested yesterday that a guarded "vote of confidence" could be a placeholder until decisions are finalized, as pre-firing votes of confidence always are. But the quotes I've seen today go quite a bit further and say that Simon is the right choice "moving forward." 

They're going to have to work hard to defend that, because the entire state disagrees, and now if she goes it will (rightly) be seen as the result of outside pressure rather than a proper decision by the trustees. The people who critiqued my characterization of the trustees appear to have been dead on.

It seems like literally everyone attached to that situation is handling this terribly. Case study in how not to respond. From the overlooking of the abuse to the lack of communication to skipping victim impacts to ill-timed votes of confidence. Think about this: MSU business majors will take classes in which crisis response will be taught, and they will learn about their own school's response as a textbook example of how not to do it.


January 19th, 2018 at 7:22 PM ^

Call me a rival slappy if you want, but this is what happens when the media fellates an organization for years because they want so badly to cheer on the underdog since it makes a better story, rather than reporting the truth. They are so deluded they can't even see what's staring them right in the face.


January 19th, 2018 at 8:11 PM ^

You're nailing a point to all this. 

The media has soft-peddled the comings and goings of the two major sports programs at that place for a decade. And I think you hit on a likely reason why.

Wonders Hall. The recent rapes. Bullough before the Rose Bowl. Rather Hall. Those get entirely more aggressive  and dogged media treatment if they happened at Michigan.

And that's relevant here because you now have an entity which isn't well versed in crisis management. Because it hasn't really had to be sharp. The nuclear bomb which could have dropped it's way with previous issues has always been tucked away in the silo.

The stakes are beyond high and people like Simon and the B of T members thought deflection and denial would make it vanish with the lightning pace of today's news cycles. 


January 19th, 2018 at 8:33 PM ^

loyal to her. They see her as virtuous; they see the institution the same way. This is an act of defiance by people who are telling themselves they're doing the right thing, defying the cries for blood. They don't see that taking responsibility--fully taking responsibility is what is required now. 

It's not that Simon is a demon; I'm sure she's very nice. She needs to say the buck stops here and go. 


January 19th, 2018 at 7:25 PM ^

Just when you thought Sparty couldn't find a way to handle this worse.


I'm a lawyer, I get the instinct that taking remedial measures looks like an admission of guilt, but at this point, the guilt is universally accepted, so bite the bullet and try to fix things rather than doubling down on the horrible conduct that got you guys in this position to start with.  


January 19th, 2018 at 8:27 PM ^

I wonder if they are covering for ELPD and the Ingham County prosecutors. I'm from Lansing, and going back to the 90s there has always been strange goings on and rumors. Call it a conspiracy, but I wonder if the AG investigation will find widespread coverups across multiple sports.


January 19th, 2018 at 7:37 PM ^

This is not possible.
What can they have left to cover up? And if they're not covering something up, what in the fuck could they think they're saving right now?


January 19th, 2018 at 7:43 PM ^

1. They fear canning Simon will be interpreted as an acknowledgement of some level of culpability.

2. They hope the incompetents running the federal government will push them off the front page if/when they shut the government down.



January 19th, 2018 at 7:48 PM ^

Here's the latest from Simon herself today. This is copy/pasted. It will be tl. You decide if you dr.

Dear MSU community member:

With several events related to the terrible crimes committed by former MSU physician Larry Nassar in the news, I want to describe what we are doing to address the issues arising from this matter and, more importantly, the steps we are taking to support his victims, create the safest campus environment possible, and do our utmost to prevent something such as this from ever happening again.

Today, the Board of Trustees wrote to Michigan State Attorney General Bill Schuette asking him to undertake a review of the events surrounding the Nassar matter. As the Board said, "We are making this request because we believe such a review is needed to answer questions that persist concerning MSU's handling of the Nassar situation."

The testimony of Nassar's victims this week made many of us, including me, listen to the survivors and the community in a different way. It is clear to the Board and me that a review by the Attorney General's Office can provide the answers people need. I hope this review will help the survivors and the entire MSU community heal and move forward.

Board Chair Brian Breslin and I watched the livestream of the first day of the victim impact statements, and Trustee Melanie Foster and I attended the afternoon session at court yesterday. It was heartbreaking to hear victims talk about how Nassar abused them and their trust. As I have said, I am truly sorry for the abuse Nassar's victims suffered, the pain it caused, and the pain it continues to cause. And I am sorry that a physician who called himself a Spartan so utterly betrayed everyone's trust and everything for which the university stands. The Board has joined me in expressing these sentiments, and I can assure you the Board and I are united in our commitment to help the survivors move forward with their lives.

Toward this end, the Board last month authorized creation of a $10-million fund to help survivors access counseling and mental health services, and last week we announced additional details of this initiative. The Healing Assistance Fund will be administered by Commonwealth Mediation and Conciliation, Inc., a Boston firm with extensive experience coordinating such services. MSU student-athletes and patients seen by Nassar at an MSU health clinic who were abused by him, as well as the parents of these victims, will be able to use the fund. Survivors and their parents also will be able to obtain reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses incurred for such services before the creation of the fund. Simply put, our goal is to support survivors by making sure they get the counseling or mental health help they need, with minimal worry about cost. We have also retained the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which will provide referral services for Nassar's victims who do not yet have counselors and need to locate providers near them.

Our focus on survivors is necessary and appropriate, both now and in the future. But we also have taken a hard look at ourselves to learn from what happened. Since the fall of 2016, we have engaged external experts to comprehensively review various programs and recommend changes to strengthen our policies, procedures, and systems, including an examination of patient care and safety in our health clinics, our Title IX program, and how medical services are provided to student-athletes and others. In short, we have systematically reviewed and sought to improve every part of MSU's operations that were in any way connected to Nassar and his work, with the clear purpose of achieving the highest standards to protect students, athletes, and patients. Additional details are available on the MSU "Our Commitment" website:

I believe we have achieved much on this front over the last year and a half, although I also understand introducing new procedures does not change what happened to Nassar's victims or the pain they feel. I am deeply committed to the pursuit of best practices, with external input and transparency about the status of our progress. You can be confident that we will continue to take additional steps to improve our systems.

Apart from describing the work we are doing on behalf of survivors, I also want to update you on the significant developments taking place in the Nassar criminal and civil cases. Nassar has pleaded guilty in three criminal proceedings - federal child pornography charges, sexual assault cases in Ingham County, and sexual assault cases in Eaton County. He has been given the equivalent of a life sentence of 60 years for the pornography charges, the first of what I hope will be several lengthy prison sentences. This month, he will be sentenced separately in Ingham and Eaton counties. As I mentioned above, his victims are first being given the chance to make impact statements in court. This is happening now in Ingham County, where the proceedings are expected to run several days. The Eaton County court proceedings are scheduled for January 31. MSU and the MSU Police Department have worked and will continue to work with any law enforcement investigation looking into criminal matters involving Nassar. In particular, I want to thank the MSU Police and specifically the detectives in the Special Victims Unit, who spent countless hours helping bring Nassar to justice, as well as the FBI, the U.S. Attorney, and the Michigan Attorney General's Office.

While the criminal cases are nearing conclusion, the civil litigation against MSU, involving multiple cases filed on behalf of victims, has begun to move forward. Last Friday, the university's lawyers filed motions to dismiss plaintiffs' claims based on a number of arguments. Given some of the criticism leveled at MSU, I hope you will keep a few important points in mind.

First, MSU is entitled to, and its insurers require, that we will mount an appropriate defense of these cases. This means MSU's lawyers are making arguments in defense of the claims of civil liability. There is nothing extraordinary about such legal efforts - they are typical at this stage of civil litigation. Given Nassar's horrendous acts, these arguments can seem disrespectful to the victims. Please know that the defenses raised on MSU's behalf are in no way a reflection of our view of the survivors, for whom we have the utmost respect and sympathy, but rather represent, as the Board has said, our desire "to protect MSU's educational and research missions."

Second, depending on the court's rulings on the initial legal arguments, the parties may enter into a period of "discovery," in which each side will be able to review relevant documents and depose relevant witnesses to determine what happened and when. The entire pre-trial process can be time consuming, but it is often the standard means by which complex cases like this are decided on legal grounds or brought forward to trial.

So, as the litigation progresses in the months ahead, you will likely continue to hear a variety of allegations and accusations against the university. I ask for your patience as well as your understanding that MSU cannot litigate the cases in the media and that many public assertions may go unchallenged unless or until they are addressed in open court.

The Board hired external legal counsel to assist MSU in responding to the Nassar allegations and specifically instructed them that if they find any evidence during their ongoing engagement that anyone at MSU other than Nassar knew of Nassar's criminal behavior and did anything to conceal or facilitate it, then that evidence of criminal conduct will be reported immediately to appropriate law enforcement authorities and the Board will be informed.

In a recent letter to the Michigan State Attorney General, MSU's external counsel, including former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, underscored those clear instructions from the Board and stated that, ". . . the evidence will show that no MSU official believed that Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to newspaper reports in the summer of 2016."

The FBI and MSU Police Department also conducted a joint investigation earlier this year into whether any university employee engaged in criminal conduct relating to Nassar's actions; there were no charges filed. I have complete faith in the legal process and in the professionalism and dedication of local, state, and federal law enforcement.

We understand and respect the desire for information and details arising from the Nassar matter, which now spans 16 months, and we are committed to continuing to share whatever information we can with the MSU community and the public.


January 19th, 2018 at 8:11 PM ^

This has been public since fall of 2016. I'm glad they're involving the Michigan attorney general; something of that scale should have occurred far sooner.

Regarding this quote:

the evidence will show that no MSU official believed that Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to newspaper reports in the summer of 2016.

I tend to believe this when people say it. But the "belief" of the "officials" is not the relevant issue. The issue is whether or not they they should have acted. Note that this action does not require belief. You do not need to believe someone is guilty to investigate or report an issue. The question is whether or not they had enough information to do more than they did. 

And MSU has gone to very little effort to inform the public about this.


January 19th, 2018 at 8:44 PM ^

As you say, you don’t get to hide behind your own apathy. A police force that never investigates a possible homicide doesn’t get to say “Hey, we didn’t *know* there had been a murder” when it turns out they let a killer slip free.

I don’t understand how possible sexual abuse at your school doesn’t rise to the top of your agenda when that agenda involves things like fundraising, student housing, and hiring administrators. Simon cannot claim she was distracted by life and death decisions.


January 19th, 2018 at 8:33 PM ^

"The testimony of Nassar's victims this week made many of us, including me, listen to the survivors and the community in a different way."

What an incredible statement. This stuff was covered up by various players over time, she's known about it for a while herself, yet she's acting as though she just had this major revelation. Wowsers.


January 19th, 2018 at 8:03 PM ^

You forgot that Rutgers coach who threw basketballs at his team’s heads, and their AD who was another nightmare. And of course the OSU lying coach tattoo scandal.

Gosh, I wonder if it’s the gigantic amounts of money that encourage universities to enable these shitstorms and look the other way? Couldn’t be that, right?