Michigan State president resigns in wake of Nassar scandal

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File) In this Nov. 9, 2012 file photo, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon attends an event in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File) In this Nov. 9, 2012 file photo, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon attends an event in East Lansing, Mich.

By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon submitted her resignation Wednesday amid an outcry over the school's handling of allegations against Larry Nassar.

RELATED: Gymnastics doctor sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison

The announcement that Simon was stepping down came hours after the sentencing of Nassar , who worked at Michigan State as a doctor and received 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting young girls and women under the guise of medical treatment. Several of the 150-plus victims who spoke at the hearing were former athletes at the school, and many victims accused the university of mishandling past complaints about Nassar.

"As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable," Simon said in her resignation letter . "As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger."

Simon was promoted to school president in 2005 after moving up the ranks while flourishing in various administrative roles.

"We agree with Dr. Simon that it is now time for change," Board of Trustees Chairman Brian Breslin said in a statement. "President Simon has served with distinction as MSU's President for 13 years and has been a constant presence at the university for more than 40 years. She literally has devoted her entire professional life to this institution, and more than anyone else has helped make MSU a national and international leader in higher education."

Simon's resignation was welcomed in Michigan's Legislature, where pressure had been building for her to step down or be ousted.

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., a Democrat from East Lansing, where the campus is located, called it "an important step in moving the university forward."

"We need to create a culture at Michigan State where survivors are listened to and believed," Hertel said. "I don't think that's happened - not just in this case. I don't think anyone could say that Lou Anna Simon hasn't had great accomplishments. But I think in this case, her actions did not meet the leadership that we need at Michigan State."

Hertel, who graduated from Michigan State, said further investigation is needed. State Attorney General Bill Schuette will review how Michigan State handled the allegations against Nassar. And the NCAA has asked the school for information regarding potential violations related to Nassar.

"We need to find out beyond the president's office who had reports and didn't act," Hertel said.

Former Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages resigned last year after she was suspended for defending Nassar over the years. Klages is accused of downplaying complaints made by two teens in 1997.

A Title IX probe conducted by the university cleared Nassar of sexual assault allegations in 2014. At least 12 reported assaults occurred after the investigation ended, according to a university police report that was provided to the FBI for review by the U.S. attorney.

The school let Nassar see patients for 16 months while the campus police also conducted a criminal investigation into the allegations. The local prosecutor declined to charge Nassar in that case.

Simon began her career at Michigan State after earning her doctorate there four-plus decades ago. The school is being sued by dozens of women, who say officials wrote off complaints about the doctor who also worked at USA Gymnastics, which trains athletes aspiring to be Olympians.

The university's eight-member board of trustees voiced support of Simon last week only to have one trustee issue a statement the next day saying she should resign. On Wednesday, a second trustee, Dianne Byrum, joined a growing chorus of calls for Simon to step down.

The fallout included Michigan State professor Sue Carter stepping down as the faculty's athletic representative.

"I had an exchange recently with President Simon that persuaded me to know my voice and the concerns of others are not being heard," Carter said. "I could no longer be part of an administration that was not in full grasp of the damage that has been done to the girls and women and to the institution itself."

Michigan State officials have denied accusations the school covered up misconduct by school administrators. The university has said reviews by campus police, the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office have not resulted in criminal charges against anyone at the university other than Nassar, who was fired in September 2016. Schuette has urged the school to give him an internal report, but the school has said there was not one.

Simon declined a $150,000 raise in December, and she and the board agreed to put the money in a scholarship fund and create a $10 million fund for mental health services for sexual assault survivors. She earned about $860,000 in 2015, according to the latest data released by The Chronicle of Higher Education, making her the 12th-highest paid public university executive in the U.S. that year.

Simon has apologized numerous times to Nassar's victims, including in the first paragraph of her resignation letter.

"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," Simon said.

___

Associated Press writer David Eggert in Lansing contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • New Jersey SlideshowsSlideshowsMore>>

  • Just Married in New Jersey

    Just Married in New Jersey

    News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding.News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding.

    News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding. If you were married in the past 90 days, please submit your photos via Twitter or Instagram using #JustMarriedNJ.  

    News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding. If you were married in the past 90 days, please submit your photos via Twitter or Instagram using #JustMarriedNJ.  

  • Your 2018 New Jersey Fall Fun Photos

    Your 2018 New Jersey Fall Fun Photos

    Wednesday, September 5 2018 2:18 PM EDT2018-09-05 18:18:06 GMT
    Send us your Fall Fun Pics!Send us your Fall Fun Pics!

    Is fall your favorite season? Are you and your family doing fun things this fall? Whether you're out apple or pumpkin picking, at a farm or corn maze or just hanging around in your home or yard, News 12 New Jersey want to see your Fall Fun pics! Send them via Twitter or Instagram with the #NJFallFun and they might end up on air or on News12.com.

    Is fall your favorite season? Are you and your family doing fun things this fall? Whether you're out apple or pumpkin picking, at a farm or corn maze or just hanging around in your home or yard, News 12 New Jersey want to see your Fall Fun pics! Send them via Twitter or Instagram with the #NJFallFun and they might end up on air or on News12.com.

  • Workers wanted: Companies hiring for the holidays

    Workers wanted: Companies hiring for the holidays

    Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season.Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season.
    Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season.Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season.

    Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season. 

    Companies around the nation are hiring seasonal workers for the holiday shopping season. 

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."