For Larry Nassar, a former doctor for Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, there is no punishment cruel enough.
Nassar pleaded guilty to possessing roughly 37,000 images of child pornography, including videos of himself molesting girls in his home, and is accused of sexually abusing over 100 young girls under the guise of his medical treatments.
His earliest known assault occurred in 1992 while he was earning his medical degree at MSU. His crimes span two decades and countless victims who finally have a voice during his sentencing hearings.
But in the case against Michigan State athletics, there is one punishment befitting its administration’s lapse in judgement: the death penalty. Across the board.
Burn the entire damned thing down.
In an email sent out on Monday, Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon reassured those affiliated with the university. She mentioned the support the victims have from herself and MSU. Great. She also outlined a $10-million trust that will benefit the victims and their family members in need of counseling. Well done!
However, there’s one thing her email does not contain: personal or institutional accountability.
You see, when it comes to supporting victims, people in power will only go as far as they’re obligated in order to save face.
After laying out in the email how important it is to support the women who were molested, Simon went on to say that lawyers are mounting defenses from civil suits against the university. She also writes that the university sent a letter to the Michigan Attorney General saying, “…the evidence will show that no MSU official believed that Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to newspaper reports in the summer of 2016.”
That statement is either ignorant or misleading, depending on Simon’s motives. Nassar’s victims informed at least 14 MSU officials — athletic trainers, coaches and a university police detective — on multiple occasions throughout the years of his assaults. According to The Detroit News, two separate incidents were reported by MSU athletes involving Nassar in 2014. Notice of both reached Simon.
If Simon, MSU’s Board of Trustees or the NCAA really cared about stopping future cases of sexual assault from authority figures, there’s only one option: kill all MSU athletics.
What other choice is there to provide an example that this s--- will not be tolerated? What incentive is there for other universities to be proactive about the choices they make regarding who is left alone with young athletes?
Give current MSU scholarship athletes the opportunity to transfer elsewhere without a waiting period. Buy out the coaches’ contracts. Pie-in-the-sky thinking, I know, but there’s a realistic way to go about this.
At the fourth day of sentencing in Nassar’s trial, three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman confronted the man who assaulted her during the 2012 London Olympic Games.
While it’s a righteous, empowering 13-minute takedown of Nassar himself, Raisman also lays blame at the feet of USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee, both of which actively fought against investigations of Nassar.
“False assurances from organizations are dangerous, especially when people want so badly to believe them,” Raisman said. “They make it easier to look away from the problem.”
Apply those words to the assurances issued by MSU, and you’ll see my point. Disband Michigan State athletics. Now. Fire Lou Anna Simon. Now.
There is no punishment befitting Nassar. But there is a clear route to justice for what many college athletes endured at the hands of MSU athletics.
Morgan McMullen is the online sports editor at the Alligator. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.