Entire USA Gymnastics board resigns in wake of Larry Nassar scandal

USA Gymnastics’ board of directors has resigned by the Wednesday deadline set by the U.S. Olympic Committee, the organization said in a statement.

Last week, the USOC set the directors’ resignations as a condition USA Gymnastics had to meet if it wanted to avoid being terminated as the governing body for the sport.

The resignation comes after former national team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for seven sexual assault charges. More than 265 girls and young women have said Nassar abused them, including Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber.

In a statement, USA Gymnastics said it “embraces not only the changes necessary as called for by the USOC and the Deborah Daniels report, but we also will hold the organization to the highest standards of care and safety in further developing a culture of empowerment for our athletes and members.”


The leadership of USA Gymnastics’ board had previously resigned before the USOC mandated the rest of the 21-member board must go. USA Gymnastics will name an interim board next month in accordance with requirements from the USOC.

The resignations are the latest fallout after Nassar’s sentencing on Jan. 24.

Over the course of a week, 156 girls and women gave victim impact statements in an Ingham County, Mich., court. In those statements, many criticized USA Gymnastics, the USOC and Michigan State – where Nassar was employed for more than 20 years – for not doing enough to protect athletes from abuse.

Raisman has been the most pointed, saying in court that USA Gymnastics was an organization “rotting from the inside,” and calling out the USOC for its lack of public support.

Following Nassar’s sentencing, Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis resigned last week.

The USOC set a series of requirements for USA Gymnastics, including cooperating with an independent investigation into whether anyone knew about athlete complaints of Nassar’s abuse and didn’t report them and the systemic failures that contributed to his ability to go unchecked for so long.

The board also must “substantively discuss” at each of its meetings how the federation is progressing in implementing 70 recommendations made by former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels, whose review of USA Gymnastics found a “complete cultural change” was needed. It must then report its progress to the USOC.

The USA Gymnastics board was quick to accept all of Daniels’ recommendations, but it has been slow to implement them.

Before the leadership of the board of directors resigned, former CEO and president Steve Penny had been the only USA Gymnastics official held publicly accountable. He was forced to resign in March under pressure from the USOC.

And despite repeated calls from athletes to stop holding training camps at the Karolyi Ranch, where Nassar abused some of his victims, USA Gymnastics did not terminate its agreement until earlier this month. That was four days after Biles acknowledged she, too, had been abused by Nassar and said she was further traumatized at the thought of going back to the ranch.

On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Rangers to launch an investigation into the sexual assault of athletes at the ranch, which is located north of Houston.

On Monday, Congress passed a bill that requires governing bodies for amateur athletics to promptly report abuse claims to law enforcement. To speed up its passage, the House voted 406-3 on a bill already passed in the Senate. It now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature.

Nassar became USA Gymnastics’ team physician in 1996, and has acknowledged abusing athletes under the guise of medical treatment. He was dismissed by the federation in July 2015, after a coach overheard athletes talking about the abusive procedure and became concerned.

But USA Gymnastics did not notify the FBI for five weeks, conducting its own investigation first. Even after it turned the case over to the FBI, it did not notify Michigan State or authorities in Michigan, despite knowing that Nassar was still working there.

The allegations against Nassar became public in August 2016, when Rachael Denhollander contacted the Indianapolis Star, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, and said she’d been abused by Nassar. That led to dozens more accusations, along with the revelation that athletes had reported Nassar to Michigan State as early as 1997.

Before his sentencing last week, Nassar, 54, had already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges. Nassar was in court again on Wednesday for sentencing in Eaton County, Mich., with at least 65 girls and women expected to give statements.

Contributing: Associated Press

© 2018 WZZM-TV


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