Michigan State University’s Larry Nassar Problem Manages To Get Much Worse

Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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25 Responses

  1. Philip H says:

    If I was Michigan’s Governor I’d haul the university president into my office – it being a state school and all – and threaten to veto each and every appropriation of the legislature until the president cleans house, sues everyone who covered this up for defamation, and resigns. Then I’d make a very public statement about my threat and use every tool in my arsenal to put the screws to the university. I’d also order my attorney general to begin criminal investigations. and I look seriously at legislation to bring back tarring and feathering.Report

    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Philip H says:

      MSU’s president, John Engler, is a former governor, hired to stand in after Lou Anna Simon stepped down in the aftermath of the Nassar revelations. Activists have already repeatedly called for his resignation, owing to his abominable behavior since being hired, which has included accusing victims of being in it for profit, attempting to buy victim silence, and canceling an attempt to discuss Nassar’s crimes to instead celebrate, among other things, himself. His tarring and feathering can’t happen soon enough but honestly, he’s currently standing in line with a lot of folks.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        he may be, but the lesson won’t get sent until University Presidents pay for the sins of their coaches and athletic departments. The resigned president probably didn’t forfeit her pension, or her access to university offices, or any of the other golden parachute provisions they generally have in their contracts. Ditto the football coaches – in nearly all cases they have to have their contracts bought out (to the tune of millions of dollars) if they are forced out over allegations like these.

        Just look at Ohio State – Urban Meyer is faced with credible accusations of covering up sever domestic violence by one of his key coaches. Yes, he’s been suspended, but that is just the cover for the negotiation about how much OSU will spend to buy out his contract.Once that’s done he will lie low for a couple of years and get hired again at another big name football school.Report

  2. If this is true, Perles was an accomplice. Maybe not legally, bur morally.Report

  3. LeeEsq says:

    It turns out that burying a tremendous crime and silencing people that try to do the right thing really don’t work out well. Its better not to be an activate participant in a criminal conspiracy.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to LeeEsq says:

      The odd time that we hear about it, it doesn’t work out well.

      How often it works out just fine for the perpetrators – well, we wouldn’t know that, would we?Report

  4. Oscar Gordon says:

    Not nearly enough people will hang* for all this.


    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      I’m up for the debate.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        The debate as to whether or not the hanging should be metaphorical?Report

        • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


          We know for damned certain that the current approach – doing next to nothing, then worrying that the guilty have already endured too much – does not seem to be preventative.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

            I’d be happy, at this point, if police and prosecutors would just start seeking warrants and issuing subpoenas and all the other fun things they do when they believe a criminal conspiracy is afoot, because clearly that is what was happening at MSU. I mean, actual investigations and actual indictments.Report

            • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              I’d wish for the same thing, but it seems quite clear that plenty of older folks who have colossally fucked up in regards to taking abuse seriously still hold considerable sway over how abuse is handled now. This despite their utterly amoral approach to the issue.

              Our cultural imperative to be respectful of our elders – to assume that they know best – is one of the most spectacularly stupid ideas to ever take hold.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                One of the many reasons I don’t respect my elders as a default. Once upon a time, someone living long enough to be an elder was someone who had figured out how to avoid or overcome the many ways to die, and maybe even succeed at life, and thus they were worth listening to.

                These days, living to old age is less of a feat and more of a given, thus the wisdom of age is inconsistent.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                I don’t think they hold sway because they are “elders.” They hold sway because they can use the levers of their own wealth and the University to insulate themselves from the legal ramifications of their actions. A university president has the universities lawyers (to say nothing of the legion of well paid lawyers who are contributing alumnae). DItto the Football Coach and Athletic Director. A female student has . . . not much unless she is from a well to do family, and even then the best she can hope for is a generous 6 or 7 figure settlement offer to make it all go away.

                This is a business transaction to these folks first and foremost.Report

  5. Philip H says:

    The other piece of this is that MSU – like so many Division 1 schools – has a revenue generating football program to protect, or so they think. I can’t speak to the particulars of their funding allocation, but my well informed guess is their football coach makes more money then their president. Just like any corporation, paying for silence regarding sexual and domestic violence is “cost of doing business” so the revenue stream can be protected.

    Sadly that alone augers for few if any prosecutions, and it likely means that the lawsuits will be settled (albeit for probably larger then anticipated sums). most of those committing the actual acts – particularly the players – are long gone from campus, and Nassar has been charged, found guilty and sentenced. and since we no longer (socially) accept institutional responsibility for social conditions (its why we keep reelecting our Congressperson while decrying the dysfunction of Congress) I see no realistic way the MSU community will be held to account for aiding and abetting.Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to Philip H says:

      Honestly surprised I haven’t seen calls for people to boycott MSU football. But maybe that’s coming. (Or maybe the football fans aren’t into boycotts. I am not convinced of their efficacy myself, but it does seem these days like everybody is boycotting everything, so).

      I am guessing a great many college (or college-affiliated, which I guess Nassar and his crew really were) sports, upon close examination, would be found not to be covered in glory.Report

      • Philip H in reply to fillyjonk says:

        Oh football fans are into boycotts if they hurt players of color who get too uppity – just look at the backlash to the Kapernick Nike ad. The real long term test for the university will be what the athletic booster foundation and the alumnae foundation report in terms of giving. If those are hit by this, then more heads will roll.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to fillyjonk says:

        I think Burt got this right when discussing it a while ago. The professionals and NCAA know fans like the sports too much to quit. Even the fans who know all of this is bad.

        I’m not a sports guy. So it is easy for me to call for a boycott. But even on much more left-wing LGM, they still have open threads for professional and college sports because lots of people think watching.Report

      • Jesse in reply to fillyjonk says:

        It’s important to remember that many of the biggest fans of the big public/state university college football/basketball programs….never actually went to the school. So, they have no connection to the school itself, they only care about the football program, and whether it wins or loses and nothing else.Report

    • J_A in reply to Philip H says:

      I’m totally going to hijack this tread…

      (it’s why we keep reelecting our Congressperson while decrying the dysfunction of Congress)

      My Congressperson run unopposed in the primaries (believe me, I would have voted against her). The option to vote against her in the general, and for the Other Candidate, is to horrible to even think about. Responsible voters in America are trapped in a Prisoner’s Dilemma not seen since The Prisoner itself (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prisoner)Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to J_A says:

        Whenever I talk about how we need more viable political parties and we need to break the duopoly the D’s & R’s have created for themselves, I’m told I’m being silly.

        But this is the problem, the fact that the parties are more interested in protecting incumbents, even horrible ones, than they are in getting good people in place. They have no incentive to do otherwise, and IMHO, the only way to create that incentive is to give voters more than two options.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    Why do so many institutions need to burn to the ground?

    Are Americans more prone to doubling down? Is there something about the American way that makes this more successful than not?Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      There BBC took an active role in making sure that the British public never learned that Jimmy Seville was a child rapist. You also have the Roman Catholic Church. Organizations want to exist in perpetuity and will do a lot to protect their organization even if it is actively immoral.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Do we need to burn MSU down and literally salt the earth where it stood? No.

      Should the leadership of the university and the academic departments expect to be fired if there was even a hint that they obstructed an investigation into Nasser? Oh yeah.Report