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Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis steps down in Larry Nassar fallout

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis steps down in Larry Nassar fallout
Michigan State University athletic director Mark Hollis watches a Spartans football game against Wisconsin on Sept. 24, 2016. (Al Goldis / Associated Press)

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis tearfully announced his retirement Friday, the second university official to step down in as many days amid sharp criticism over the school's handling of sexual abuse allegations against disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar.

Hollis, who had been in the job for 10 years, disclosed the move during a meeting with a small group of reporters on campus. He was asked why he would not stay on.

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"Because I care," Hollis said, holding back tears. "When you look at the scope of everything, that's the reason I made a choice to retire now. And I hope that has a little bit, a little bit, of helping that healing process."

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon submitted her resignation late Wednesday, hours after Nassar, a former employee at Michigan State, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting young girls and women under the guise of medical treatment. Several of the 150-plus victims who spoke at his hearing were former athletes at the school, and many victims accused the university of mishandling past complaints about Nassar, who also is accused of molesting Olympians and other young gymnasts while working for USA Gymnastics.

Michigan State's governing board was meeting later Friday, for the first time since Simon and Hollis stepped down. Trustees planned to discuss the presidential transition, as the university prepares for new investigations by the state attorney general, state lawmakers and the NCAA while facing lawsuits filed by more than 130 women and girls.

The board expressed support for Simon before her resignation, but she faced pressure from many students, faculty and legislators. While there has been no evidence that Simon knew Nassar was sexually abusing girls and women, some of the more than 150 women and girls who have accused him said they complained to university employees as far back as the late 1990s.

Hollis, like Simon, is a Michigan State graduate. He has been the Spartans' athletic director since 2008 and was chairman of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee last season. Hollis' unique ideas include putting hockey and basketball games in football stadiums and a basketball game on an aircraft carrier. One of his best friends is a Michigan State icon: Hall of Fame basketball coach Tom Izzo, the best man at his wedding and a former roommate.

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