Trustee: More to worry about at Michigan State than 'just this Nassar thing'

EAST LANSING, MICH. - Many are calling for Lou Anna Simon to step down as president of Michigan State University in the wake of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.

Trustee Joel Ferguson, the vice chairman of the board, is adamant that won't happen.

"That will not happen. Period," Ferguson said on "Staudt on Sports," a radio program on 730 WVFN-AM. "She’s a fighter. Her overall, what she’s done for this university, she’s not going to get ran out of there by what somebody else did.

"I’ve been on the board for 30 years and she by far is the best president we’ve ever had."

The radio interview comes days after the MSU Board of Trustees put support behind Simon despite growing pressure from students and alumni that Simon must depart after 13 years as university president. Mitch Lyons was the only trustee to call for Simon's resignation.

Ferguson said it was a quick decision for the board as a whole to support Simon.

"The meeting we had the other day was 5 hours. And talking Lou Anna was 10 minutes," he said, later saying: "We unanimously decided in that meeting right away … we were going to support her staying as president.

"There’s so many more things going on at the university than just this Nassar thing."

Today is Day 6 of Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing in Lansing, where dozens of women have given victim-impact statements against the former MSU doctor, with the number expecting to total 144

Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty in November to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, with seven in Ingham County and three in Eaton County. The low end of his sentence will be between 25 and 40 years in prison, and the maximum sentence can be up to life. 

Meanwhile, Ferguson insists the scandal won't tarnish Simon's legacy as university president, that it's "wrong" to even talk about the possibility of Simon retiring, and is confident that the attorney-general investigation into MSU will find its "senior people are not complicit in what this pervert did."

"I mean, when you go to the basketball game, you walk into the new Breslin, and the person who hustled and got all those major donors to give money was Lou Anna Simon," Ferguson said. "There’s just so many things that make up being president at a university that keeps everything moving and everything right with the deans, everything at a school where we have a waiting list of students who want to come."

Ferguson also said the board has had many major donors and alumni send communication expressing support for Simon and what the Trustees are trying to do.

"The young ladies who have been wronged by this person, I think that … they will ... you can never use money to make up for people’s pain and suffering, but there’s going to be something happening in their favor," he said. "I think that when people find out that this person was … by himself, I think they’ll move on, we’ll keep the university moving and I think with the president, we have. She’ll continue to do a great job."

Ferguson also laughed at the idea of the NCAA investigating MSU.

"This is not Penn State," he said, referring to the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal from several years ago. "They were dealing with their football program. ... They're smart enough to know they're not competent to walk in here on this."

Listen to the full interview here.

© 2018 Detroit Free Press


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment