Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, who drew criticism from victims in the Larry Nassar case for his postgame comments about the Nassar hearing and university president Lou Anna K. Simon’s job security, issued a statement of clarification on Sunday.
“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.”
A reporter asked Izzo during his news conference after the Spartans' win over Indiana: "The decision of the Board of Trustees today, coach (Mark) Dantonio, he talked about it a little bit. I was wondering if you had any comment on the whole issue?"
“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.
“But there has been a lot of sad days for me in a lot of ways. I’m gonna to try do to everything I can to help the survivors and to help us grow from this and learn from it and move forward. That’s all I have to say.”
A second reporter asked a follow-up question: “For those that see a crisis at the university and want a change in leadership, as one of the faces of the school, what would be your response to that?”
“You know, when I talk to you guys about basketball, it’s really easy. I really don’t give a damn if you agree with me or not. But I mean, you have to understand there is nothing I can say that is gonna be right right now, and there is nothing that’s gonna make anybody right. I’ll just stick by what I said. The survivors are the most 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 never will, and I hope I never find out.
“But I also, I just gotta say that that is a situation that I think is being dealt with and has been dealt with. And there is no way I could waver on the support for my administration or my president knowing the 35 years I have spent here on what she has done for this university, what she has stood for – not only athletics, that’s a small part. For women’s groups, for different groups, I think she’s been a champion.
“I hope and pray that the survivors get through this. But I also hope that we take a serious look at what we’re doing.”
Lynn Raisman wrote: “I'm sorry it's been a difficult week for you. Did you hear, Larry Nassar also said it was difficult. Since you 'hope the right person was convicted' I wonder if you are a complete and total MORON or just a LIAR when you claim you listened to the impact statements.”
Aly Raisman was captain of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medal-winning gymnastics teams. She and 2012 teammate Jordyn Wieber, a DeWitt native, gave victim impact statements against Nassar on Friday morning in Ingham County Circuit Court. They are among the 89 statements given against Nassar, whose sentencing hearing will continue Monday.
MSU’s Board of Trustees issued a unified statement of support for Simon on Friday while victim impact statements were being heard in court, though Trustee Mitch Lyons recanted his support Saturday night and called for her resignation.
Simon attended half a day of statements Wednesday. She was criticized by national media outlets a day earlier, the first day of victim impact statements, for saying she would attend and then changing her mind. She did not return Thursday or Friday.
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