The national spotlight on Michigan State University’s possible role in allowing USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar to abuse at least 200 young women over a period of two decades shines brightly in a Big Ten community such as Bloomington. As it should.
Indiana University has hundreds of student-athletes, both male and female, along with doctors and trainers and coaches of both genders. The university is responsible for acting on any complaints of impropriety quickly and forcefully to guarantee the protection of the young people under its wing.
The same is true, of course, for Michigan State University where Nassar was a sports medicine doctor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine in addition to his role caring for Olympic-level gymnasts. A Detroit News report found that at least 14 Michigan State staff members received complaints about Nassar in the time he worked there.
While the university did very little to curtail his behavior, the doctor continued sexually assaulting women under the guise of medical examinations and treatment. Now, prompted largely by exceptional reporting by our Hoosier colleagues at the Indianapolis Star, Nassar has entered a guilty plea and been sentenced to literally hundreds of years in prison; MSU’s president and athletics director have resigned; and more dominoes are expected to fall.
Both MSU’s leadership and the NCAA must investigate what complicity the university might have had in covering for Nassar, as well as look deeply into how other sexual assault allegations within MSU football and basketball programs have been handled.
Though we have no reason to doubt IU officials place the safety and welfare of student-athletes as their highest priority, this is a good time to step back and examine how that priority is being ensured. Nassar’s case and its link to MSU should prompt such examination at all Big Ten schools, if not all members at all levels of the NCAA.