EAST LANSING (WWJ) – Michigan State University trustee Joel Ferguson showing unwavering support of school president Lou Anna K. Simon — as critics call for her resignation in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.
Trustee Ferguson, the vice chairman of the board, speaking on radio station WVFN in Lansing saying the issue was briefly discussed by the board.
“The meeting we had the other day was five hours,” Ferguson said. “And talking Lou Anna was 10 minutes. We had so many other things we were going over and we unanimously decided in that meeting right away that Lou Anna was going to –, we were going to support her staying as president.”
Ferguson steadfastly supporting the MSU president saying that Simon will not resign, “That will not happen. Period,” he told the radio station.
“There are so many more things going in the university than just this Nassar thing. When you go to a basketball game you walk in that new Breslin, and the person who hustled and got all those major donors that give money was Lou Anna Simon,” he said.
Ferguson also rejected the idea of the NCAA investigating Michigan State University — saying “this is not Penn State.”
Nassar, 54, worked at Michigan State University and at USA Gymnastics, the Indianapolis-based group that trains Olympians.
A widening call from students, alumni, and one board trustee for Simon to resign is in sharp contrast to Ferguson and other board members’ continued support.
Ferguson called Simon “a fighter” and says she wont be forced to step down for “what somebody else did.”
He says the board is not going to make any moves before an investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s office (requested by Simon last week) is complete. “When he gets through … he will say that our senior people were not complicitous in what this pervert did.”
A Detroit News investigation has reported that reports of sexual misconduct by Nassar reached at least 14 university representatives in the two decades before his arrest.
Over 120 young girls and women have made victim impact statements during the Nassar sentencing period.
The sentencing has taken on a #MeToo momentum, though the case predates the uproar over Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. It began with a 2016 Indianapolis Star investigation of how USA Gymnastics handled sexual abuse allegations against coaches. That prompted former gymnast Rachael Denhollander to alert the newspaper to Nassar’s abuse.
“I knew this was the time,” Denhollander said. “One anonymous, quiet voice was not going to be enough. I was 100 percent confident there were other victims speaking up and being silenced.”
From there, the number of victims coming forward continued to grow, getting another jolt with the sentencing that began last week. Originally, fewer than 90 women and girls were expected to give statements.
The fallout continued as three key members of the board that oversees USA Gymnastics resigned Monday, 10 months after former President Steve Penny quit after critics said the organization failed to protect gymnasts from abusive coaches and Nassar. USA Gymnastics also announced the suspension of former women’s national team coach John Geddert, the owner of a gymnastics club where Nassar sexually abused girls near Lansing, Michigan.
Nassar already has been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes. Under a plea deal, he will get a minimum of 25 to 40 years for digitally penetrating girls under the guise of medical treatment between 1998 and 2015.