Lou Anna Simon will stay on as president of Michigan State University, the school’s board announced Friday afternoon. The board said it supported Simon, who has been in the spotlight in recent weeks during the ongoing Larry Nassar sex abuse trial.
As a doctor with USA Gymnastics and MSU, Nassar abused more than 150 women, many of whom confronted him in court this week. Nassar pleaded guilty to the charges, and Simon has continually shirked any responsibility for enabling his abuse, as ThinkProgress’ Lindsay Gibbs wrote Friday.
Simon was told in 2014 that a Title IX complaint had been filed against an unnamed physician at the school, but she never followed up on or asked to see the report.
Additionally, in April 2017, Simon told her Board of Trustees, “I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile, that they will go to incomprehensible lengths to keep what they do in the shadows.”
Local media, politicians, and MSU alumni have called for Simon’s resignation, and one victim, Lindsey Lemke, addressed Simon directly when she briefly appeared at Nassar’s trial earlier this week.
“I don’t even know how you are still in the position that you are in. I don’t know how you can still call yourself a president, because I don’t anymore,” Lemke said, addressing Simon by name. “You are no president of mine as a student and former athlete of Michigan State University. Guess what? You’re a coward, too.”
Lemke went on, saying, “You say you aren’t responsible for this. I wish you would come up to this podium and be half as brave as all of us have had to be the past year and a half. To be brave enough to come up here and confidently tell us the reasons why you don’t think that you are responsible.”
But the MSU Board stood by Simon Friday.
“Through this terrible situation, the university has been perceived as tone deaf, unresponsive and insensitive to the victims. We understand the public’s faith has been shaken,” the statement from board chairman Brian Breslin said. “The Board has listened and heard the victims.”
Still, Breslin said, “We continue to believe President Simon is the right leader for the university and she has our support.”
In a statement following the board’s announcement Friday, Simon said she appreciated the confidence of the board and “the many people who have reached out to me, and to them, who have the best interested of MSU at heart.”
“I have always done my best to lead MSU,” she said, “and I will continue to do so today and tomorrow.”