By: Will Burchfield
When Tom Izzo was asked on Friday night about the Larry Nassar case, he praised the courage of the victims who spoke in court, he stood behind Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon, and he expressed pain as both a university man and a father.
He also slipped up, if only for a moment.
“I hope the right person was convicted,” Izzo said.
Many people recoiled at this comment, understandably so, including the mother of Aly Raisman. She wondered on Twitter whether Izzo was a “moron” or a “liar” for what he said.
Izzo released a statement on Sunday explaining himself:
“On Friday night in my postgame press conference, I used the wrong words when trying to express my belief that Larry Nassar and anyone else who broke the law should be held accountable for their crimes.
“My overall message was, and remains, that I have tremendous admiration for the courage the survivors have shown, and that Larry Nassar has permanently damaged the lives of so many people and deserves all the punishment that he receives.”
It was clear on Friday night that Izzo didn’t intend to question Nassar’s culpability. He misspoke while addressing a sensitive topic, and he paid the price for it on social media.
His statement on Sunday is reflective of one of the first things he said on Friday: “I listened to the stories of those courageous women and I look at the survivors who spoke. In all honesty, Nassar permanently damaged and changed the lives of so many of those people.”
If anything, Izzo invited controversy by voicing support for Simon hours after the Board of Trustees did the same. Simon was named by The Detroit News as someone who knew about accusations against Nassar and did nothing to prevent him from having access to new victims.
Said Izzo, “There is no way I could waver on the support for my administration or my president in knowing the 35 years I’ve spent here, what she has done for this university, what she stood for. Not only athletics — it’s a small part of it — (but) for women’s groups, for different groups. I think she’s been a champion.”