MSU's Izzo has 'utmost faith, respect' for Simon

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Tom Izzo echoed his support of Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon following Friday's win over Indiana.

East Lansing — Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon drew the support of the university’s Board of Trustees on Friday afternoon, and that support was echoed by men's basketball coach Tom Izzo on Friday night.

The backing comes as calls have been mounting for Simon to be removed from her position or for her to resign over the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal.

“It’s been a very difficult week for me,” Izzo said after Michigan State’s 85-57 win over Indiana at the Breslin Center. “As a father, it’s been a difficult week. I listened to the stories of those courageous women and I look at the survivors who spoke and in all honesty, Nassar permanently damaged and changed the lives of so many of those people. I feel like it’s changed the life of all of us at Michigan State in some way, shape or form. As a father that’s difficult to even fathom.

“I hope that the right person was convicted and I have to say, though, that I have the utmost — the utmost faith and respect — for the leadership of our president, too, at Michigan State. It’s a woman who dedicated over 40 years and I’ve been here 33 with her and I think I know what she stands for. So, I hope and pray that those survivors continue to grow in their life, I hope we do everything we can to make sure that this will never happen ever again, not only at this institution but any institution, to be honest with you. But it’s been a lot of sad days for me in a lot of ways and I’m gonna try to do everything I can to help the survivors and help us grow from this and learn from it and move forward.”

More: 22 more Nassar survivors deliver tearful tales of abuse

More: What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse

Michigan State’s Trustees met with Simon on Friday and spent more than three hours talking behind closed doors after releasing a morning letter that denied any “cover-up” by the university. But they asked Attorney General Bill Schuette via letter to investigate its handling of allegations against the former gymnastics doctor.

However, they made no move with regards to Simon, instead voicing their support.

Izzo, in his 23rd year as Michigan State’s head coach, was asked what he thought about calls for Simon to step down.

“You have to understand that there’s nothing I can say that’s gonna be right right now and there’s nothing that’s gonna make anybody right,” Izzo said. “I’ll just stick by what I said. The survivors are the most courageous people. I can’t even imagine. I hate when I’m put in a position, when I can almost start saying, ‘I know what you’re going through,’ because I have no clue what they’re going through and never will and hope I never find out.

“But I also just got to say that, that is a situation I think is being dealt with and has been dealt with and there is no way I could waver on the support for my administration or my president knowing the 35 years I’ve spent here. What she has done for this university, what she stood for, not only — athletics is a small part — for women’s groups, for different groups, I think she’s been a champion. So, I hope and pray that the survivors get through this but I also hope that we take a serious look at what we’re doing.”