After defeating the Indiana Hoosiers last Friday, Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo was asked about the Larry Nassar case and the leadership of MSU president Lou Anna Simon. MSU has come under fire after its board of trustees voted in support of Simon on Friday, even though it was recently revealed that Simon was among the MSU staffers who were warned about Nassar’s sexual abuse as early as 1992. Here’s what Izzo said:
“It’s been a very difficult week for me. As a father, it’s been a difficult week. I listened to the stories of courageous women. 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. I hope the right person was convicted.
“I have to say, though, that I have the utmost – the utmost – faith and respect for the leadership of our president, too, at Michigan State. That’s a woman who has 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 that this will never happen ever again – not only at this institution, but any institution to be honest with you.”
Izzo’s support for Simon drew the attention of Lynn Raisman, whose daughter Aly recently offered stirring testimony at Nassar’s sentencing. Lynn did not hold back.
Izzo issued a statement last night regarding his comments on Simon, and he clarified that he primarily intended to support victims and survivors. However, he didn’t address his support of Simon.
“On Friday night in my postgame press conference, I used the wrong words when trying to express my belief that Larry Nassar and anyone else who broke the law should be held accountable for their crimes,” Izzo said in his statement. “My overall message was, and remains, that I have tremendous admiration for the courage the survivors have shown, and that Larry Nassar has permanently damaged the lives of so many people and deserves all the punishment that he receives.”
Izzo is clearly being deferential to someone he’s known for decades, but if he truly wants to support Nassar’s victims as much as possible, he’d be wise to realize that Simon is part of the problem, not the solution.