USA Gymnastics board ordered to resign and Michigan State AD quits in wake of sex abuse scandal
U.S. Olympic Committee officials threatened to decertify the national governing body if it does not satisfy a series of swift reforms. (Jan. 26, 2018)
With the U.S. Olympic Committee demanding a “categorically fresh start,” USA Gymnastics has agreed to overhaul its board of directors in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.
Every remaining member will resign, complying with a USOC directive that threatened to decertify the national governing body if it did not satisfy a series of swift reforms.
“USA Gymnastics will comply with the USOC requirements,” the organization said Friday. In an earlier statement, it said: “We understand that the requirements imposed by the letter will help us enhance our ability to build a culture of empowerment throughout the organization, with an increased focus on athlete safety and wellbeing.”
The USOC letter was sent to the gymnastics organization’s Indianapolis headquarters on Thursday, shortly after Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for molesting young athletes.
Fallout from the scandal had already prompted the suspension of former Olympic coach John Geddert and the resignation of three USA Gymnastics board members.
At Michigan State, where Nassar worked for years treating sports injuries, athletic director Mark Hollis announced his retirement Friday.
“This was not an easy decision for my family, and you should not jump to any conclusions based on our decision — listen to the facts,” Hollis wrote in a statement.
Lou Anna Simon, who had been the university president since 2004, stepped down a day earlier as congressional leaders called for further investigation into the abuse scandal.
USA Gymnastics and the USOC have similarly come under scrutiny, with victims accusing the organizations of ignoring early reports of Nassar’s abuse.
The USOC has asked that an interim board of directors be established by the end of February and that permanent replacements be found within 12 months. It also seeks to have a designated liaison present at all future board meetings.
“We do not base these requirements on any knowledge that any individual USAG staff or board members had a role in fostering or obscuring Nassar’s actions,” USOC Chief Executive Scott Blackmun wrote. “Our position comes from a clear sense that USAG culture needs a fundamental rebuilding.”
USA Gymnastics also has been ordered to cooperate with an independent investigation commissioned by the USOC to determine when complaints were first brought against Nassar and why his actions went undetected or unaddressed for decades.
“Please understand that the circumstances that led to this crisis demand our attention and intervention,” Blackmun wrote. “Our common focus and motivation needs to be athlete support and protection.”
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7:15 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional reporting.
1:55 p.m.: This article was updated with news of Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis’ resignation.
This article was originally published at 8:20 a.m.
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