Athletic director Mark Hollis issued his first statement on the letter of inquiry his school received from the NCAA regarding the Michigan State University athletic department’s role in Larry Nassar’s abuse case.
Hollis said that MSU “will cooperate with any investigation.”
“Since my first day on the job as athletic director, my focus has always been on the student-athlete. They are at the core of our athletic department mission statement,” Hollis said. “Our first priority has always been and will always be their health and safety. In regards to the letter we received from the NCAA last night, the athletic compliance and university general counsel offices are preparing a comprehensive response.”
Stacey Osburn, the NCAA director of public and media relations, confirmed to the Free Press in a statement Tuesday night that the organization had informed MSU of its impending investigation: “The NCAA has sent a letter of inquiry to Michigan State University regarding potential NCAA rules violations related to the assaults Larry Nassar perpetrated against girls and young women, including some student-athletes at Michigan State. We will have no further comment at this time.”
MSU spokesman Jason Cody also confirmed the university received a letter of inquiry from the NCAA regarding the case of the former Michigan State doctor and said university officials were reviewing it for a response.
Nassar, 54, of Holt, already has been sentenced to 60 years in prison on three federal charges related to child pornography. He also 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.
At least a dozen former Spartan athletes — from the gymnastics, volleyball, rowing, softball and track and field programs — were among the women and girls who have given victim-impact statements during the first six days of Nassar’s sentencing hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court.
Hollis suspended former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages in February last year over her alleged role in dismissing athletes’ concerns about Nassar treatments. She resigned a day later.
Victim-impact statements wrapped up Wednesday morning in Nassar’s hearing. One of the final three women who gave them, Kaylee Lorincz, listed Hollis among the MSU administrators and gymnastics officials who enabled Nassar. Other Michigan State officials Lorincz said she believed were at fault were Klages, President Lou Anna K. Simon, Nassar's former boss William Strampel (previously the dean of MSU's College of Ostheopathic Medicine) and Nassar's former colleague Brooke Lemmen.
The former MSU sports medicine doctor is expected to be sentenced today.
NCAA bylaws state “(i)t is the responsibility of each member institution to protect the health of and provide a safe environment for each of its participating student-athletes.”
“The NCAA has requested information from Michigan State about any potential rules violations,” Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief legal officer, told the New York Times.
In a radio interview Monday in Lansing, MSU trustee Joel Ferguson 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."
On Tuesday, Ferguson issued a statement apologizing for those remarks.