MSU files response to NCAA regarding Nassar scandal

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Michigan State has filed its response to the NCAA regarding any potential violations surrounding the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal.

The university confirmed Wednesday the response was filed on March 22 after the NCAA initially sent a letter of inquiry to then-athletic director Mark Hollis on Jan. 23. In that letter, the NCAA referenced Article 2.2 of the NCAA constitution that establishes the principle of protecting student-athlete well-being, including health and safety, and Bylaw which specifically identifies well-being as an imperative for Division I members.

Officials with the NCAA did not immediately respond to messages left by The News and there is no timetable when the organization might act on Michigan State’s response.

The letter of inquiry was sent by the NCAA the same week Nassar was sentenced after it was found the former MSU doctor sexually abused more than 250 girls and women for more than two decades while employed by the university. Just days later, Hollis announced he was retiring.

A Detroit News investigation showed at least 14 people associated with Michigan State had knowledge of complaints against Nassar before initial media reports surfaced in 2016, however, Hollis was not among them.

What sort of role the NCAA might take from here is difficult to determine.

“The only angle that the NCAA would have under its current bylaws would be the health and safety provisions in the constitution, the NCAA constitution and bylaws,” Michael Buckner, a Florida attorney who has performed internal investigations for the NCAA told The News in January. “Normally, when the NCAA investigates or cites those types of bylaws or constitutional provisions, it’s normally tied to another NCAA rules violation.

“I’m not familiar with the NCAA just citing those health and safety type provisions as violations in and of themselves. So, if they go down that route it would be entirely new territory.”

The case has brought up comparisons to Penn State, where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted in 2012 on 45 counts of sexually abusing young boys. It also resulted in the resignation of university president Graham Spanier and the termination of athletic director Tim Curley and head football coach Joe Paterno.

On July 23, 2012, the NCAA imposed a $60 million fine, four-year postseason ban, scholarship reductions from 85 to 65, and vacated all victories from 1998 to 2011 for the Penn State football program. However, debate continued over the NCAA’s penalties and in 2014, the NCAA rescinded the postseason ban, restored scholarships, and re-credited Penn State and Paterno with their victories from 1998 to 2011.