The NCAA has formally opened an investigation of Michigan State due to the university’s failure to address repeated reports of sexual abuse by former employee Larry Nassar, who is already in prison for child pornography and is currently being sentenced after pleading guilty to several counts of criminal sexual conduct.
The investigation was first reported by the New York Times. A Michigan State spokesman confirmed to Deadspin that the athletic department received a letter of inquiry from the NCAA today and the university is now reviewing it for a response.
Nassar was a university faculty member and a practicing doctor at Michigan State’s sports medicine clinic from 1997 until he was fired in 2016, in addition to his work with USA Gymnastics, for whom he served as national medical coordinator from 1996 to 2014. Several former Michigan State athletes—including cross country runners and softball players—have said that they were sexually abused by Nassar, under the guise of receiving medical treatment.
Lawsuits say that Michigan State employees and officials were informed of allegations against Nassar on several occasions over the course of more than a decade and did nothing. One gymnast said that she told Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages in the late 1990s that she was concerned about her treatment from Nassar, only to be discouraged from filing a formal complaint and learn that Klages had told Nassar about her comments. A cross country runner said she told athletic trainers and staff in 1999 about a hamstring “treatment” in which Nassar penetrated her vagina, but she said she was told that he was a doctor who “knew what he was doing.” A softball player said she told Michigan State athletic trainers through 1999 and 2000 that Nassar was sexually abusing her and had her concerns dismissed. In 2014, a woman filed a Michigan State police report of abuse by Nassar during medical treatment.
Even after USA Gymnastics officially cut their last ties with Nassar in 2015 amid what they called “athlete concerns,” Michigan State continued to employ him until September 2016.
Update (1/24): Here is the NCAA’s letter of inquiry: