Nassar recieves “death sentence”, MSU is let off easy: NCAA should shut down sports due to lack of control at Michigan State

By Evin Hartsock, Managing Editor

      In 2011, the world saw what it thought was the worst, most egregious thing that could ever happen in college athletics when former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was accused and found guilty of molesting children in the school’s facilities. Things got even worse when it was revealed that head coach Joe Paterno, as well as high ranking administrators, knew this was occurring for years and decided to do nothing about it.
Penn State received one of the harshest punishments in NCAA history as the school was fined $60 million, lost football scholarships, had wins vacated and their reputation tarnished for the next few years to come. Sandusky was sentenced to the rest of his life in prison and top administrators were forced out. With a punishment that severe, there was no way that something like that could happen again.

       Unfortunately, it has. Except this time, it is far more appalling, and the punishment should be even more severe.

     Collegiate athletics were rocked again when news broke that Michigan State University doctor, Larry Nassar had been sexually abusing his patients, a total of over 160 women, as early as the 1990s. Nassar had started seeing patients at MSU in 1997 after already having established himself as a doctor with USA Gymnastics, where he has also been accused of abusing patients. While Nassar’s actions were already despicable, to make matters worse, a report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines revealed that four women who attended MSU told coaches and trainers about Nassar in the late 90s; yet nothing was done about it.

     In fact, Kathie Klages, a longtime gymnastics coach at MSU, was informed by Larissa Boyce, who was 16 at the time, that Nassar touched her inappropriately while she was attending a gymnastics camp at the university. Boyce told Klages that this had happened in 1997, but Klages dismissed it at the time because she had a good relationship with Nassar and claimed to trust him. Klages would go on to continue as a gymnastics coach at MSU for another 20 years before stepping down this February. She never took the accusations seriously, and unlike Paterno, failed to alert those above her about the accusations.

     Boyce’s story is just one in a plethora of women who were abused by Nassar during their careers at MSU whose accusations were either not taken seriously or swept under the mat to preserve the reputation of the institution. Despite an effort to keep accusations under wraps, eventually the information spread all the way up to the president of the university, Lou Anna Simon.

    Simon had served as the president of the university since 2004 and was well aware of what was going on with Nassar but continued to be complacent on the issue. When the board of trustees at Michigan State found out that Simon had knowledge of what happened but took no action, they too decided to sweep things under the mat, and allowed Simon to keep her position because she was “an excellent fundraiser.”

    Simon, the university’s athletic director, and various other high-ranking officials have all stepped down since these accusations have surfaced, so far without facing any real consequences. But this cannot be the end for them, they cannot get off that easy.

   The NCAA has launched an investigation into the university in order to determine how irresponsible these officials were with handling the accusations made, and if they do find what they’re looking for, MSU should receive the harshest of punishments.

    The NCAA tried to make an example out of Penn State with a severe punishment so that something like that would not happen again. This time, the punishment should be even more severe. Because not only have those women involved in gymnastics at MSU been affected by this culture of allowing sexual predators to thrive, but so too have other women at the university.

     A report by ESPN showed that not only has MSU’s gymnastics program been responsible for covering up sexual assault, but so too have the men’s basketball and football programs. The report from Outside the Lines revealed members of the men’s basketball team and football team had incidents of sexually assaulting women and receiving no punishment for it at all.

    Because MSU has allowed this sort of culture to thrive at its institution, something far worse than what ever happened at Penn State, the punishment handed down by the NCAA should be one that sets a president so that something so horrible could never happen again. They should make sure that all high-ranking officials and coaches that knew about this face some kind of legal action, fine the school thoroughly, and quite possibly shut down athletics as a whole for a number of years.

     “The Death Penalty” as it is known may seem too harsh, but when Penn State was handed down their sentence, one of the reasons cited for it was that they had “lost control” of their program. Well, clearly MSU is far past the point of control. They deliberately tried to cover up unspeakable acts. The university allowed a man to prey on young women for decades, ruining lives and leaving scars that never go away.

    The wellbeing of humans, especially women, should always come first; before sports, money, and reputation. Clearly, Michigan State did not think that to be the case. Because of that, the death penalty seems to be a fitting punishment.

 

 

Aly Raisman, a member of the USA Women’s Gymnastic Team, came forward and accused former USA and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar, of sexual assult. Raisman was one of over 160 women who accused Nassar of such acts.