August 30, 2018 / 5:33 PM / 8 months ago

Michigan State says NCAA cleared school after review

The NCAA is satisfied that Michigan State didn’t break any NCAA rules in its handling of sexual assault issues, the university announced Thursday.

Larry Nassar in Charlotte, Michigan, U.S., February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Michigan State officials said Thursday they were notified via a letter from the NCAA’s head of enforcement that the organization found no violations as it reviewed the school’s response to sexual assaults committed by former university doctor Larry Nassar. The NCAA also looked into sexual assault allegations made against football and basketball teams.

“We welcome closure in regards to the NCAA inquiry,” athletic director Bill Beekman said in a statement released Thursday morning. “MSU cooperated fully with the inquiry over the past several months and provided all requested documentation and access to key personnel.”

The NCAA asked Michigan State for cooperation on Jan. 23 amid Nassar’s sentencing, when a number of former Michigan State athletes said they had told campus officials Nassar abused them but their complaints largely were discounted. Nassar has been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.

Beekman said “the NCAA findings do not change a thing” regarding Nassar’s crimes at Michigan State. The school reached a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women who were Nassar’s victims.

Michigan State’s statement said the NCAA conducted a second review spurred by an ESPN report in January that said the school had a “pattern of denial, inaction and information suppression” when it came to dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct and violence that women had made against athletes.

The report said at least 16 football players have been accused of sexual assault or violence against women since Mark Dantonio took over as coach in 2007, including a case in which Dantonio was reportedly involved in handling the discipline. ESPN also reported on several basketball players who have been accused of sexual misconduct, including one incident that led to a federal lawsuit after a female student said she was raped by three players in 2015 and the university failed to offer her proper resources for help.

Beekman’s statement said the NCAA’s letter validated how basketball coach Tom Izzo and football coach Mark Dantonio run their teams.

“Mark and Tom represent the athletic department and Michigan State University with integrity,” Beekman said.

Michigan State did not release the full text of the NCAA letter.

One Nassar victim expressed her outrage with the findings. Lindsey Lemke opened her statement this way:

“You have a doctor working for the university that was sexually abusing hundreds and others who knew about the abuse yet they find no violations?”

The announcement from Michigan State came a few hours after former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages was arraigned. She has been charged with two counts of lying to police about whether she was aware of allegations of sexual misconduct against Nassar. Larissa Boyce, a former gymnast, has said she told Klages about Nassar’s abuse in 1997 but that Klages told her not to tell anyone else.

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