We kept hearing that Lou Anna Simon was the best president Michigan State University ever had, at least until she resigned the other day because a monster like Dr. Larry Nassar had been hiding in plain sight at her school for years, same as he had been at USA Gymnastics.
Now the school’s athletic director, Mark Hollis, follows Simon right out the door. But as he does, we’re told that Hollis was one of the best in the business, too. And in this way, in lights, part of a familiar production, you see how people cling to the immense power and even protections of Sports in this country, with an upper-case S, even as the standing of another major American university is crumbling all around them, along with what is left of the reputation of USA Gymastics, also rotting before our eyes.
It is currently reported that the total amount Penn State — which had an abuser and child molester named Jerry Sandusky hiding in plain sight in Joe Paterno’s football program — has paid out because of Sandusky is nearly $100 million, which includes the $48 million penalty levied against that school by the NCAA, money that has been spent on various child-abuse programs in the state of Pennsylvania. It remains to be seen whether that will turn out to be tipping money at Michigan State as Nassar’s survivors line up against the school with their own lawsuits, and everything old is new again in college sports.
Michigan State’s lawyers are already fighting those lawsuits in court, saying that as a “government entity” the school has immunity for this type of lawsuit, and that many of the lawsuits ought to get tossed because the statute of limitations has run out. As if there is any statute of limitations on what Nassar did to these young girls and to these young women. We’ll see how that works out for them, as they continue to protect the institution, where the money keeps rolling in because of the power of Sports.
Now ESPN comes out with a story about alleged sexual assaults in Michigan State’s football and basketball programs, run by Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo, who happen to be the two most powerful men in the school. Here’s what Dantonio said about the ESPN report on Friday: “Every incident reported in that article was documented by either police or the Michigan State Title IX office. I’ve always worked with the proper authorities when dealing with the cases of sexual assault. We have always had high standards in this program, and that will never change.”
Last spring, Dantonio dismissed four football players accused of sexual assault. At the time he said this was “new ground” for him. Really? And was it? Because it seems disingenuous at the very least, and dishonest at worst, to believe that he was completely in the dark about previous accusations involving his own program. Maybe Dantonio will eventually explain more fully what “documented” by police means, and what police he was talking about.
This is from the Outside the Lines story at ESPN:
“Since Dantonio’s tenure began in 2007, at least 16 MSU football players have been accused of sexual assault or violence against women, according to interviews and public records….”
And also this from ESPN:
“Over the past three years, MSU has three times fought in court — unsuccessfully — to withhold names of athletes in campus police records. The school has also deleted so much information from some incident reports that they were nearly unreadable.”
It all sounds far too much like behavior out of the old order in sports and the country, even as the country has changed the way it has over the past few months and keeps changing in in #MeToo America. It will now be up to the NCAA and state of Michigan and even the federal government to go into Michigan State with investigators and subpoenas and start by figuring out how and why Nassar was able to Sandusky his way through 20 years at the school before the Indianapolis Star published a story in 2016 with the first testimony from two of his victims; and then find out what everybody knew and when they knew it in football and basketball.
They always tell you about transparency after that fact; always tell you about how they went by the book, at least until somebody throws the book at them. Now it will be left to people with real authority to sort out everything that happened with people in authority in sports at Michigan State.
You know who was a driving force in the investigation of the rot in FIFA? A former Attorney General named Loretta Lynch. Of course that was back when we still had a real Attorney General in this country.
I wrote the other day in the Daily News about reckonings at Michigan State, and at the United States Olympic Committee. The sentencing of Nassar was one. The resignation of Simon was another. Now comes the resignation of Hollis. But the trouble at Michigan State is just beginning, in a world where men in charge – and sometimes women – never seem to learn.
In what kind of world, given the power of these athletic departments and the men who run them, should these athletic departments be in charge of policing claims of sexual misconduct? That ends now, the way the silence of survivors and victims has ended in #MeToo America. Now it’s time for the real police.
Woz’s first, all-America A-Rod & Tiger’s narrative…
– It was a very cool thing watching David Lee, one of the best and nicest people to ever play for the Knicks, watch his fiancée, Caroline Wozniacki, win the Australian Open early Saturday morning, New York time.
It was additionally a very cool thing for Wozniacki to win her first major the way she did, and get back to No. 1 in the world for the first time in six years.
She was down two match points in the second round.
Down a break in the third set against Simona Halep in the final.
Came back from all of it.
“An amazing woman,” Lee said in an email about an hour later.
So is tennis when a story comes out like this.
Something else that’s kind of amazing?
– Watching the career arc of Alex Rodriguez, suddenly everybody’s all-America all this time after he lied his way through Biogenesis, and he and the headbangers working for him were willing to take down everyone and anyone who wouldn’t buy into a cockeyed narrative about a witch hunt.
The face of Biogenesis has become one of the prominent television faces of baseball, and magazine cover boy, and darling of late-night TV, as if running for mayor of the national pastime.
What a guy.
Scott Boras continuing to assert that six- and seven-year contracts are the best thing in baseball since night baseball just proves once again that if you torture statistics long enough, you can make them tell you whatever you want them to.
Every year at this time I love the notion that you can’t keep Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out of Cooperstown because we just don’t know who was juicing and who wasn’t during the steroids era.
But here’s what we do know:
They were juicing.
– For the last time: Imagine what the reaction would have been out of the White House if it had been an illegal immigrant shooting up a high school in Kentucky and killing two 15-year old students, as opposed to another high school student being the one with the gun.
As always, the hypocrisy on the subject of guns in this country is breathtaking.
– I was surprised this week that networks weren’t doing breaking-news updates every time Tiger Woods got up and down from a greenside bunker at Torrey Pines.
The guy has absolutely come back from a lot, and a lot of surgeries, including one for spinal fusion.
But he still talks about himself sometimes as if he got hit by a bus the way Ben Hogan did.
Pat Shurmur may not have been the hottest guy out of all the head coaching candidates out there.
He was just the best guy for the Giants.
That’s it and that’s all.