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Michigan State president resigns in wake of Larry Nassar scandal

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon has announced that she is resigning.

Simon is stepping down in the wake of a scandal involving Larry Nassar, who worked at Michigan State as a medical doctor. Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting young girls and women under the guise of medical treatment.

Many of the victims accused the university of mishandling past complaints about Nassar.

In her resignation letter, Simon said as tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. She acknowledged she was a natural focus of the anger as president.

Simon, who earned her doctorate at Michigan State in 1974, was promoted to school president in 2005.

Simon’s full resignation letter:

Members of the Board of Trustees:

The last year and a half has been very difficult for the victims of Larry Nassar, for the university community, and for me personally.  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.  I know that we all share the same resolve to do whatever it takes to avert such tragedies here and elsewhere.

As you and many in the Spartan family know, I planned to retire in December 2016, and we had begun a conversation about a smooth transition.  Then the Indianapolis Star article appeared about USAG and one of the victims contacted MSU police to file a complaint.  The MSU Police investigation commenced.  Nassar’s employment was terminated shortly thereafter.  Work began within the HealthTeam and other areas of the university to improve safety.  Given the challenges, my transition was postponed.  I appreciate the support you provided. 

The survivors’ accounts are horrific.  They are tragic, heartbreaking, and personally gut-wrenching.  I take solace that many victims have indicated that the opportunity to confront Nassar is a step toward healing.  I am proud of the exceptional work of the Special Victims Unit led by Lieutenant Andrea Munford with the steadfast leadership of Chief Dunlap.  I am proud of my support of their work even though the results have been very painful to all who watched.

As Nassar’s legal journey to prison was drawing to a close, more and more negative attention was focused on Michigan State University, and on me.  I am pleased that statements have been made by Mr. Fitzgerald and Board members about my integrity and the fact that there is no cover-up.  I support wholeheartedly the Board’s decision to ask the Attorney General’s Office to review the events surrounding the Nassar matter.  This is an important step toward providing more assurance to the university community and to the public.  In the past, I have provided assurances to the Attorney General of my full cooperation, and I will continue to do so.

As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable.  As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.  I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements.   Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first.  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.  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.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a principled person.  I have spent my entire professional career, more than 40 years, at MSU.  I love this place.  I have watched it grow and prosper, and it has been the honor and privilege of my life to serve as its president since 2005, and over the last few years, to have the opportunity to work with all of you toward our shared goals for MSU. I will continue to do whatever I can to help MSU prosper in the future as a Spartan in whatever role I may play.

Respectfully,

Lou Anna K. Simon, President
John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor 

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Lawsuit alleges USA Diving ignored sex abuse of divers

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two former divers are suing USA Diving, accusing the national governing body of ignoring or obstructing inquiries into allegations that a coach sexually abused them when they were young athletes dreaming of Olympic glory.

The federal lawsuit, filed last week, names Indianapolis-based USA Diving, Inc., the Ohio State University Diving Club and Will Bohonyi.

The suit alleges that Bohonyi, who had coached at the Ohio State University Diving Club and was fired in 2014, coerced and forced the divers into frequent sex, telling them, “You owe me this,” the Indianapolis Star reported.

Calls to a telephone listing for Bohonyi’s most recent Columbus, Ohio, address went unanswered.

USA Diving declined to comment Monday, with a spokeswoman saying that, “Providing a safe environment for our members is of tremendous importance to USA Diving, and we take these matters very seriously.”

Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said the school opened an administrative investigation in 2014 after learning about the allegations against Bohonyi and he was fired in August 2014.

The university said Bohonyi was hired as a part-time, paid assistant diving coach in September 2012 and remained in that role until his termination.

Bohonyi has been on USA Diving’s list of banned coaches since 2015, but the lawsuit alleges that action didn’t happen until six months after Ohio State University investigated one of the women’s allegations and fired him. The report, the suit contends, was provided to USA Diving.

During that time period, it alleges that Bohonyi forced that girl — an Olympic hopeful — to perform sex acts numerous times while she was a minor.

She also sent him hundreds of naked photos, the suit alleges, saying that Bohonyi “psychologically coerced” her into believing that she “was required to perform sexual services in exchange for her continued involvement in diving.”

“He preyed on her age, vulnerability, and dreams of becoming an Olympian, and used the power structure and imbalance of power (coach/athlete) to make her believe she was required to sexually service him in exchange for her involvement in diving for Team USA,” it alleges.

The suit also alleges that Ohio State has had possession of the naked photos for almost four years and “no action has been taken.”

Ohio State said it notified campus police, USA Diving and Franklin County Children’s Services, as well as law enforcement in Montgomery County, Maryland, where the lawsuit says teammates discovered the diver’s sexual relationship with Bohonyi at a national competition.

Johnson said Monday that a campus police investigation was opened in August 2014 and then closed at the complainant’s request before being reopened this January, also at the former diver’s request.

He said university police are working with the county prosecutor’s office in that pending investigation.

Allegations of sexual misconduct also are the focus of a separate, independent investigation pending about a now-dead Ohio State team doctor accused of groping male athletes and other students decades ago.

The physician, Richard Strauss, worked at Ohio State for two decades before retiring in 1998. The university says allegations against Strauss have been raised by former athletes from 14 sports. The independent investigators are reviewing those claims and well as whether the university knew of concerns about Strauss.

The other diver named in the lawsuit alleges that starting in 2009, that Bohonyi, who was her coach, cultivated an abusive relationship, eventually coercing her into daily sex.

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Usain Bolt set to join Australian soccer team

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Usain Bolt agreed in principle to join an Australian soccer team in the nation’s top division, the Central Coast Mariners, a soccer agent said Tuesday.

“The deal between the Mariners and Usain Bolt, in principle, has been agreed, subject to a couple of benchmarks, namely a trial and, of course, some marquee funds support from the FFA [Australian Football Federation],” agent Tony Rallis said in a radio interview. “They understand that he has to go through six weeks of a trial.”

The eight-time Olympic champion Bolt has long harbored dreams of playing pro soccer.

Since retiring last summer, the 31-year-old Jamaican has trained alongside club teams in South Africa, Jamaica and Norway, plus had a much-publicized visit with Borussia Dortmund in March. Bolt and Dortmund share an apparel sponsor in Puma.

“This bloke’s an ambitious athlete,” Rallis said. “You know, the A-League needed a hero, and we got Superman. … If he’s competitive, he will lift our A-League profile, he will create dreams of young people and he will give the A-League a profile no amount of money can buy,”

The Central Coast Mariners, based in Gosford in New South Wales, won four matches and lost 15 last season, finishing 10th in the 10-team A-League. There is no relegation in Australian soccer.

“There’s still a lot of work to do in regards to understanding exactly how the deal would work out and how things would look, but things are very positive at the moment,” Central Coast Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp said on Australia’s Seven Network. “It looks like a good six-week trial period that we would be able to facilitate. If all goes well, who knows, he might be lighting up the A-League this season.”

The 2018-19 regular season starts in October.

“It would only be big if he can play and if he can go really, really well,” Mielekamp said. “If he comes, and he’s not up to the level, then it actually has a detrimental effect.”

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