Merchant: Focus should be on victims, Simon 'an incredible president'
Worldwide attention has been focused on MSU this past week, as many are calling for President Lou Anna K. Simon to resign after the way the situation was handled with ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar.
Here’s what else Merchant had to say:
Q: The decision by the Board of Trustees this past week. I know coach (Tom) Izzo and coach (Mark) Dantonio talked about briefly, but I was wondering if you could give your comment or opinion about what's been going on?
Merchant: “I certainly always think it starts with the victim. I’ve seen a lot of courage and watch these women have to speak in front of someone that violated them. To me those people, in my opinion, are act-alone monsters. They're going to find their way to do the things that they do and it's really unfortunate, but this is a great university.
It's a horrible situation and when I look at it from the outside in--and again I'm not privileged to everything--I think Lou Anna is one of the best presidents in the country. And I fully have faith in her and the Board of Trustees. Michigan State, I get frustrated when I hear some things because I just feel like we didn’t cover anything up. If you didn’t know, you didn’t know, but who did know and then let's make some decisions from there. But if you didn't know, it's hard to make a decision on what to do if you don't know what's going on.
I think number one, you want to always put the victims first. I think this is a great institution. Lou Anna is an incredible president and has been a great role model for so many of us.
I’ll tell you this one little story about Lou Anna and women. When I got hired, I had a three month old child. And I remember her saying to me about my contract. She said 'We're going to put some clauses in your contract, to make sure that you're capable of being a mom and being in a leadership position.' She said 'So many times we put women in leadership positions and then never give them the resources they need to do their jobs. That’s not gonna happen here at Michigan State.'
And I'm still coaching--I still have two little boys. You know how hard this job is to do and be a mom in this business? It's not easy and there are not many of us out there. I believe whole heartedly, I owe everything to her and Mark Hollis for supporting me in that role and understanding what that's like. To have the job I have, and also do that.
That's a little sidebar. I just want everyone to know that I think we need to focus on the victims and their healing process. And what Michigan State has done to put money, the $10 million in the terms of counseling and things like that, we're doing all the right things. It’s a horrible situation and you can't fix it. It'll never be fixed.
The man that is responsible for this is going to go to jail for a very long time and that's a positive thing, it's not the answer because those women are going to be frustrated and certainly go through some things for the rest of their lives. I’m proud of this institution and certainly proud of Lou Anna Simon and Mark Hollis and everybody that's involved here."