MSU secrets go far beyond Nassar crimes

The former Michigan State doctor and US gymnastics physician Larry Nassar was sentenced to 170 years in prison for sexually molesting and abusing 150 girls for more than 20 years.

The entire board of the US Gymanstics Association has resigned as a result of their prior knowledge of the abuse. But as it turns out, Michigan State - one of the premiere undergraduate colleges in the country - had its own secrets that goes far beyond their coverup of Nassar's crimes.


Even MSU's most-recognizable figures, football coach Mark Dantonio and basketball coach Tom Izzo, have had incidents involving their programs, Outside the Lines has found.

Since Dantonio's tenure began in 2007, at least 16 MSU football players have been accused of sexual assault or violence against women, according to interviews and public records obtained by Outside the Lines. Even more, Dantonio was said to be involved in handling the discipline in at least one of the cases several years ago. As recently as June, Dantonio faced a crowd of reporters who were asking questions about four of his football players who had been accused of sexual assault. Six questions in, a reporter asked Dantonio how he had handled such allegations previously.

"This is new ground for us," Dantonio answered. "We've been here 11 years -- it has not happened previously."

Outside the Lines also has obtained never-before-publicized reports of sexual or violent incidents involving members of Izzo's storied basketball program, including one report made against a former undergraduate student-assistant coach who was allowed to continue coaching after he had been criminally charged for punching a female MSU student in the face at a bar in 2010. A few months later, after the Spartans qualified for the 2010 Final Four, the same assistant coach was accused of sexually assaulting a different female student.

Michigan State officials, including former president Lou Anna Simon -- who resigned Wednesday -- have been criticized for a lack of transparency and for not properly handling the Nassar sexual abuse allegations. As far back as 1997, athletes began telling multiple MSU officials, including the university's longtime gymnastics coach, that Nassar was assaulting them under the guise of medical treatment. Several survivors of Nassar's abuse excoriated Simon and Michigan State during Nassar's sentencing hearing in recent days, repeatedly saying that MSU's inaction allowed Nassar to continue abusing scores of young girls and women.

On Thursday, Outside the Lines reported that MSU officials in 2014 did not notify federal officials that the university had dual Title IX and campus police investigations of Nassar under way even though federal investigators were on campus that year scrutinizing how MSU dealt with sexual assault allegations. The Outside the Lines report also found that MSU administrators still have not provided to federal officials all documents related to the Nassar allegations.

What this investigation has uncovered is the soft underbelly of big time college sports where hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake in attempts to stifle news about criminal behavior by players. In the case of MSU, the cover ups went all the way to the top - the school president. Not only was her personal career put into jeapordy by allegations of sexual abuse against athletes, but the school's image would have suffered as well. 

Big time athletic programs depend on that image to sell the school to recruits. Better recruits mean better teams which means higher TV ratings which puts money in the pocket of the athletic programs and the school's general fund. 

How many other schools have similar problems? It seems naive to believe that only a limited number of institutions are guilty of similar transgressions. This is a nationwide scandal waiting to happen that will make recruiting scandals and academic cheating incidents seem like jaywalking in comparison.