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As fallout from Nassar scandal continues, legislative leaders call for MSU president's resignation

Former MSU President Lou Anna Simon
Image courtesy of MSU
File photo / MSU
MSU President Lou Anna Simon

The entire leadership of the state Legislature has now called for Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon to resign or be removed in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich joined state House Minority Leader Sam Singh and Senator Curtis Hertel Jr., both of Lansing, in calling for Simon's resignation Thursday. House Speaker Tom Leonard had earlier called for Simon's dismissal.

This follows a Detroit News report that 14 Michigan State officials, including Simon, were aware of the accusations against Nassar as early as 2014, only to clear the sports doctor after a Title IX investigation.

In a joint statement, the Senate leaders said, “In light of recent news, it is clear that the Michigan State University Board of Trustees should act swiftly to remove President Simon from her position at MSU.  The Senate has lost confidence in President Simon’s ability to lead one of our state’s finest universities.  The MSU community deserves better from its leadership.”

Singh and Hertel also released a joint statement, saying, “It is clear that a lack of leadership amongst Michigan State University’s highest ranks allowed victims to suffer in silence for far too long.”

State Senator Margaret O’Brien also says Simon should step down, and called for the state attorney general to investigate who at MSU knew what and when they knew it at MSU.

“I resisted calling for her resignation until now because she’s been a strong leader for Michigan State, and I thought she would be a great leader to be able to walk us through this," says O'Brien, "but it’s at the point where lawsuits are more important than lives.”

The State News, MSU's student newspaper, released an editorial Thursday calling for Simon's resignation. 

"Simon, if you’re the Spartan you claim to be, you will step down and bow out gracefully. We hope you make the right choice, because time’s up." 

Larry Nassar, a former MSU athletics doctor, is accused of sexually assaulting more than 140 women and girls. So far, 106 of those victims are scheduled to give statements at Nassar's sentencing hearing this week.
Lou Anna Simon was in the courtroom Wednesday, after a number of victims directly criticized her and Michigan State.
"Where were you when we needed you?" Olivia Cowan asked in her statement Tuesday. "Lou Anna Simon and the Board of Trustees, all the signs were there ... you failed all of us."

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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