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Parents who don't feel safe sending their children to Michigan State University in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal should send them to other schools, said a university prominent donor and Grand Rapids businessman.

Peter Secchia said in an interview Thursday with WZZM- TV, an ABC affiliate in Grand Rapids, that there are a lot of students waiting to get into the university.

"I would say to them that if you don't feel comfortable with your children at Michigan State, take them somewhere else because we've got a long list of people that want to go to Michigan State and there are some wonderful people left," he said.

Secchia made the comments about a day after MSU President Lou Anna Simon resigned amid a growing national backlash over the school’s handling of widespread sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, one of its former doctors.

"I love her, I loved her, I worked with her, she was strong, she was good and we'll have a tough time replacing her," Secchia told the TV station.

A former U.S. ambassador to Italy, Secchia graduated from MSU with an economics degree in 1962. He's donated millions to the college and his name is on multiple buildings on its campus.

Secchia said it was difficult for the school to catch Nassar — who was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison — because he was a rock star and people ignored comments about him.

He also said he wonders why others aren't being blamed for not stopping the former USA Gymnastics doctor sooner. 

"We all wonder why the National Gymnastics people aren't being dragged in, the Olympics aren't being dragged in, why some of the parents remained quiet. Were they driven to have a gold medal or driven to have a child who is a star? Were they holding back on the information they had because they didn't want to embarrass their daughter? There are so many different currents in this river of distraught...it's not a pleasant time... but it can only get better," he said.

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cramirez@detroitnews.com

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