UPDATED: Michigan State University president resigns in wake of Larry Nassar scandal

Michigan House of Representatives, two U.S. senators, and a second school trustee have called for Simon's removal.

Credit: (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Credit: (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

UPDATE: Simon announced her resignation on Wednesday night.

“As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger…Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as president according to the terms of my employment agreement.”


Disgraced former Michigan State University physician and USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on seven charges of sexual assault Wednesday, leading to renewed calls for one of Nassar’s primary enablers, MSU President Lou Anna Simon, to step down.

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Dianne Byrum, a member of the university’s board of trustees, said in a statement Wednesday that she supports Simon’s resignation and supports an investigation by the state attorney general to provide a “full accounting of what happened and take an important step toward restoring trust.” Byrum is now the second trustee to call for Simon’s resignation.

“Unfortunately, through this terrible situation, the university has been tone deaf, unresponsive, unapologetic and insensitive to the victims. As a woman who has always fought for women’s rights and victims’ rights, and encouraged women in all areas, it is deeply troubling to me that so much pain and suffering has been caused by my alma mater,” Byrum wrote in the statement.

After speaking with Simon about the university’s “ineffective response” to the suffering caused by Nassar’s abuse, MSU Faculty Athletic Representative Sue Carter tendered her resignation Wednesday.

“As both professor and priest, I am profoundly saddened by Michigan State University’s public posture and seemingly callous regard for these girls and women,” wrote Carter.

Up until this point, the board has largely stood by Simon, announcing just last week that it supported Simon staying on as president, despite victims, lawmakers, and alumni demanding she step down for her role in enabling Nassar’s abuse.

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As ThinkProgress’ Lindsay Gibbs has previously reported, the Title IX investigation into Nassar was deeply flawed. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights determined in a 2015 investigation that the way the university handled Title IX complaints helped contribute to a “sexually hostile environment” on campus.

As it relates to Nassar specifically, Simon has repeatedly shirked any responsibility for his abuse. As Simon wrote in an April 2017 letter to the MSU board of trustees, “I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile, that they will go to incomprehensible lengths to keep what they do in the shadows.”

Even the Michigan state legislature has weighed in on Simon’s fate. A non-binding resolution in the Michigan House of Representatives calling for Simon to resign was approved in a 96-11 vote Wednesday.

“We have lost confidence in the ability of President Lou Anna K. Simon to lead a transparent investigation, to implement changes that will ensure it never happens again, to protect students, and to lead Michigan State University forward,” the resolution says.

Both U.S. Senators from Michigan have called for Simon’s resignation following Nassar’s sentencing.

“It has become clear that the leadership at Michigan State University has failed to adequately prevent, address or respond to the victimization of young women and girls on its campus, and the crisis at MSU continues despite today’s verdict,” Sen. Gary Peters’ (D-MI) said in a statement Wedesday. “As an MSU alumnus, I add my voice to those calling for President Simon’s resignation, and I will work in the U.S. Senate to address the failures that led us to this day.”

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At Nassar’s sentencing, the first woman to publicly accuse him of sexual misconduct had the final say. In her testimony, Rachael Denhollander specifically called out MSU and USA Gymnastics for their complacency.

“I was confident that because people at MSU and USAG had to be aware of what Larry was doing and had not stopped him, there could surely be no question about the legitimacy of his treatment. ‘This must be medical treatment. The problem must be me.’,” said Denhollander. “I was wrong.”

The MSU board of trustees has a meeting scheduled for Friday but MSU spokespeople have declined to tell local Michigan press whether Simon’s job status will be a point of discussion.