Friday, November 27, 2020

Izzo states support for university leadership and Nassar victims

January 19, 2018
Michigan State’s head coach Tom Izzo reacts during the men's basketball game against Michigan on Jan. 13, 2018 at Breslin Center. The Spartans were defeated by the Wolverines, 82-72. (Nic Antaya | The State News)
Michigan State’s head coach Tom Izzo reacts during the men's basketball game against Michigan on Jan. 13, 2018 at Breslin Center. The Spartans were defeated by the Wolverines, 82-72. (Nic Antaya | The State News) —

Amid widespread calls for MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon to resign for the way the university handled reports made against ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar, MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo said he fully stands by the decision of the administration to support Simon.

Izzo was asked about the board’s decision after the No. 9 Spartans defeated Indiana, 85-57, at the Breslin Center Friday night, after local and national media outlets, members of the student body, general public and state legislators called for Simon’s resignation.

Here’s what Izzo had to say: 

Q: The decision by the Board of Trustees today, I know coach (Mark) Dantonio, he talked about it a little bit. I was wondering if you had any comment about the whole issue.

Izzo: “It’s been a very difficult week for me. As a father it’s been a difficult week. I listened to the stories of those courageous women and I look at the survivors who spoke, and in all honesty Nassar permanently damaged and changed the lives of so many of those people, I feel like it’s changed the life of all of us at Michigan State in some way, shape or form. As a father that’s difficult to even fathom, but I hope the right person was convicted.

I have to say that I have the utmost faith and respect for the leadership of our president, too, at Michigan State. That’s a woman who dedicated over 40 years — and I’ve been here 33 with her — and I think I know what she stands for. 

So I hope and pray that those survivors continue to grow in their life. I hope we do everything we can to make sure this will never happen, ever again, not only at this institution but any institution, to be honest with you. 

It’s been a lot of sad days for me in a lot of ways. I’m going to try and do everything I can to help the survivors and to help us grow from this and learn from it and move forward.”

Q: For those who see crisis at the university and want a change in leadership, as one of the faces of the school what would kind of be your response to that?

Izzo: “When I talk to you guys about basketball it’s really easy. I don’t really give a damn if you agree with me or not. But you have to understand that there’s nothing I can say that would be right right now, and there’s nothing that would make anybody right. 

I’ll just stick by what I said. Survivors are, those courageous people, I can’t even imagine. I hate when I’m put in a position when I can almost start saying, ‘I know what you’re going through’ because I have no clue what they’re going through. And I never will and I hope I never find out. 

But I also just got to say that is a situation that is being dealt with, and has been dealt with, and there is no way I could waver on the support for my administration and my president, knowing the 35 years I’ve spent here, what she has done for this university, what she stood for — not only, athletics is a small part for women's groups, for different groups. I think she’s been a champion. 

I hope and pray the survivors get through this. But I also hope we take a serious look at what we’re doing.”

Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 charges of first degree criminal sexual conduct, seven in Ingham County and three in Eaton County, in November 2017.

More than 120 women and girls are expected to give victim impact statements through Nassar’s sentencing.

Reports of Nassar’s abuse were made to university personnel as early as 1997. He was terminated by the university in 2016.

Nassar also pleaded guilty in federal court in July for three counts related to child pornography, where he was sentenced to 60 years in prison. He awaits sentencing in Ingham County court, where survivors of his abuse have made impact statements in court all this week.

He returns to court on Monday.

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