Michigan State interim president John Engler has told school employees to preserve all documents that could be used in the investigations that the institution faces in the wake of decades of sexual abuse by former university employee Dr. Larry Nassar.
Nassar—who served as university faculty and practiced at the school’s sports medicine clinic from 1997 to 2016, while also serving as a team doctor for USA Gymnastics—has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison after sexually abusing more than 150 girls and women, many in his role at Michigan State. Lawsuits claim that university employees were told of Nassar’s abuse on multiple occasions stretching from the late 1990s up until at least 2014, when one woman filed a campus police report against the doctor, but nothing was done. While USA Gymnastics cut ties with Nassar in 2015, citing “athlete concerns,” the school continued to employ him for another year.
A bombshell piece from ESPN two weeks ago highlighted problems at the school beyond Nassar, with reports of athletics department officials and coaches failing to report abuse and assault to proper authorities on multiple occasions.
The NCAA opened an investigation of MSU related to Nassar’s decades of abuse during the doctor’s sentencing hearing two weeks ago, asking the school to report any potential violations of NCAA rules. The U.S. Department of Education is investigating the university for violations of the Clery Act, which requires schools to compile and publish crime records, while the Michigan House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and House have all requested copies of MSU records for potential investigation, as has the Michigan attorney general.
Engler’s letter reads, in part:
“I want to reaffirm that the policy of MSU is to cooperate with these inquires as well as any other related inquiries or investigations. If you are contacted by the Office of General Counsel for assistance in responding to any such inquiry, you are expected to provide full assistance and give that request your prompt attention. You are also instructed to preserve any and all documents, records, or electronically stored information that relate to these inquiries.
“In addition, I ask that you exercise the utmost caution not to dispose of any document, record, or electronically stored information that could reasonably be relevant to the pending inquiries or any other investigation that involves allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct.”
Monday was Engler’s first official day as the interim replacement for former president Lou Anna Simon, who resigned on January 25.
The full letter can be read below: