In the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, Lou Anna Simon, president of Michigan State University, is resigning, according to a letter posted on the school’s website.
Nassar is a former longtime school employee. He was sentenced Wednesday to up to 175 years in prison for the sexual assault of young female athletes.
“Throughout my career, I have consistently and persistently spoken and worked on behalf of Team MSU. I have tried to make it not about me,” Simon wrote. “I urge those who have supported my work to understand that I cannot make it about me now. Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as president according to the terms of my employment agreement.”
The chairman of the board of trustees said the group had accepted Simon’s resignation, and will work out the details of her departure over the rest of the week.
“We greatly appreciate her integrity, her many contributions, and her willingness to continue to serve through transition,” Brian Breslin said in a statement posted below Simon’s on the MSU website.
Simon had recently come under fire for what critics say is the mishandling of the Nassar scandal. They say the school’s leader of 13 years had been tone deaf and needs to be among those held accountable for what happened while Nassar was employed as a sports physician at MSU from 1997 to 2016.
The Detroit News recently reported that misconduct allegations against Nassar reached at least 14 MSU representatives in the two decades before his arrest.
Michigan State maintains that no official believed Nassar committed sexual abuse until newspapers began reporting on the allegations during the summer of 2016. Any suggestion that the university engaged in a cover-up is “simply false,” an MSU statement asserted last week.
Simon expressed sympathy for Nassar’s many victims.
“To the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment,” she said. “I know that we all share the same resolve to do whatever it takes to avert such tragedies here and elsewhere.”
Tom Leonard, the Speaker of the House in Michigan, applauded Simon’s decision while criticizing the school.
“I am glad Lou Anna Simon finally did the right thing. The university’s response to this crisis simply hasn’t been good enough, and I hope that changes going forward for the sake of both the victims and the entire Michigan State University community,” Leonard said.