East Lansing: Michigan State University’s athletic director retired Friday, two days after the university president resigned over the school’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against its disgraced former sports doctor, Larry Nassar.
Mark Hollis, who had been in the job for 10 years, disclosed the move during a meeting with a small group of reporters on campus. He was asked why he would not stay on.
“Because I care,” Hollis said, holding back tears. “When you look at the scope of everything, that’s the reason I made a choice to retire now. And I hope that has a little bit, a little bit, of helping that healing process.”
Hours later, the university named its vice president to serve as acting president after the departure of President Lou Anna Simon. Bill Beekman is expected to serve briefly in the role until the board of trustees can hire an interim president and then a permanent leader.
Also Friday, USA Gymnastics confirmed that its entire board of directors would resign as requested by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The USOC had threatened to decertify the organization, which besides picking U.S. national teams is the umbrella organization for hundreds of clubs across the country.
Some of the nation’s top gymnasts, including Olympians Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles and Jordyn Wieber, said they were among Nassar’s victims.
At the university board’s meeting, Chairman Brian Breslin said it was “clear that MSU has not been focused enough on the victims.” The trustees, he said, want to resume discussions with those who have sued the school to “reach a fair and just conclusion.” Talks broke down last year.
The board plans to ask an independent third party to review health and safety at the school, and it wants state Attorney General Bill Schuette to consider appointing a neutral investigator to conduct an inquiry of the Nassar matter “to promote bipartisan acceptance of the results.” Schuette, who is running for governor, will further detail his probe in a news conference Saturday.
Trustee Brian Mosallam addressed his remarks toward the victims: “I am so truly sorry. We failed you.”
Beekman is vice president and secretary of the board. He began working at the university in 1995 and previously led the MSU Alumni Association. He has an undergraduate degree from MSU.
“I think our culture here at Michigan State clearly needs to improve,” he said. “We need to be able to make everybody that comes on our campus feel safe.”
Simon submitted her resignation Wednesday after Nassar, a former Michigan State employee, was sentenced to 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 his sentencing hearing were former athletes at the school, and many victims accused the university of mishandling past complaints about Nassar.
“I don’t believe that I’ve ever met him,” Hollis said of Nassar. He insisted he did not know about complaints of abuse until an Indianapolis Star report in 2016.
Gov. Rick Snyder said Friday he is mulling an inquiry into the university, depending on whether it would interfere with other investigations such as the attorney general’s. Under the state constitution, the governor can remove or suspend public officers for “gross neglect of duty,” corruption or “other misfeasance or malfeasance.” (AFP)