MSU trustee calls for president Lou Anna Simon’s resignation

FILE - In this photo taken Nov. 9, 2012, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon attends an event in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State is dealing with allegations of sexual assault by a sports doctor and a separate sexual assault complaint against three football players who have been evicted from campus housing. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A member of the Michigan State Board of Trustees called for the resignation of university president Lou Anna Simon.

Trustee Mitch Lyons released a statement Saturday night after the board backed Simon and asked for a review of the case surrounding former MSU doctor Larry Nassar.

MSU issued a letter Friday to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, saying it believes his review may be needed to answer public questions concerning how the university handled Nassar. Lyons said he didn’t agree with the statement of support, and that he believes Simon must resign in order to allow the healing process to begin for the survivors of Nassar’s abuse and the university.

A number of people have called for Simon’s resignation, including The State News and the Associated Students of Michigan State University, MSU’s student government.

Read the full statement here:

Let me start by saying, as a husband and father, I hurt for the survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse and have been moved by their brave testimony this week.

I have been very troubled since yesterday’s board statement. While I do agree that bringing in the Attorney General to review the situation is in MSU’s and the public’s best interest, and that bringing outside counsel in to help guide this board through this unprecedented time is wise, I do not agree with our statement of support for President Simon. As I expressed repeatedly to fellow board members during our discussion Friday, I don’t feel that President Simon can survive the public outcry that has been generated by this tragedy and even less so after hearing the testimony of these brave survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse.  I feel that our best recourse is for President Simon to resign immediately in order to allow the healing process to begin, first and foremost for the survivors and secondarily for our university. I believe that without question, the public has lost confidence in Dr. Simon to effectively lead this university and I believe that this loss of confidence is irreparable.

This is not a personal indictment of President Simon. To date, this board has not been presented with any evidence that would suggest she knew anything of the monster that Larry Nassar is until 2016. I believe he hid behind the legitimacy of known medical procedures to prey on young girls and women. While mistakes were made, I don’t believe anyone at MSU, including President Simon, knowingly engaged in any coverup or criminal wrongdoing at any time.  However, while President Simon has done many great things during her time at MSU, this atrocity is simply too much to overcome and our institutional accountability has been compromised. I have empathy for the position she is in but her legacy does not take precedence over the survivors.

This board has prided itself on presenting itself as a unified board over the years, even when we had disagreements.  However, on this issue I strongly disagree and, while I am only one voice on this board, I can’t in good conscience remain silent on this issue.

Lastly, before people question whether I’m doing this for political gain given that my term ends the end of this year, I have no intention of running for re-election in November of 2018. My only hope is that everyone impacted by this tragedy can begin healing with God’s grace. God bless the survivors.

Our sister station in Lansing, WLNS, reports that board chairman Brian Breslin released a statement in response to Lyons’ call for President Simon to resign. Read the full statement below:

“Yesterday, a unanimous Board of Trustees stated that we continue to believe President Simon is the right leader for the university and that she has our support. Regrettably, Trustee Mitch Lyons announced his intention to call for President Simon’s resignation. Importantly, all of the other trustees continue to support President Simon.

The Board of Trustees shares the outrage of the survivors over the egregious crimes committed by Larry Nassar on the campus of Michigan State University and in his work outside the university with USA Gymnastics and other organizations. The stories told in court this week are heartbreaking.

We look forward to a prompt and thorough investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office to help reassure the public that the university and its leadership have nothing to hide. As our outside counsel, former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, has written to the Attorney General, we believe “the evidence will show that no official believed that Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to newspaper reports in the summer of 2016.”

Breslin also announced that he will not run for reelection in 2018.