WJBK - Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon has resigned effective immediately.
Simon released a letter to MSU apologizing for the handling of the Larry Nassar case. Nassar, the Team USA and Michigan State sports doctor was sentenced to 175 years in prison for abusing nearly 200 young female gymnasts for decades Wednesday.
On Tuesday the New York Times reported that the NCAA is launching an investigation to look into the Nassar case and how Michigan State handled it.
Simon wrote: "To the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment. I know that we all share the same resolve to do whatever it takes to avert such tragedies here and elsewhere."
Simon will stay on for the transition of her position, according to a statement by Michigan State member of the Board of Trustees Brian Breslin.
READ THE FULL LETTER BY SIMON BELOW:
Breslin said that it is time for a change but thanked her for years of service.
Simon, a 40-year employee of the university, was president in 2014 when Nassar was suspended amid a school investigation that resulted in no findings. Simon, who attended one of the six days of testimony, said she was lied to and misled like everyone else.
Her complete letter:
The last year and a half has been very difficult for the victims of Larry Nassar, for the university community, and for me personally. To the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment. I know that we all share the same resolve to do whatever it takes to avert such tragedies here and elsewhere.
As you and many in the Spartan family know, I planned to retire in December 2016, and we had begun a conversation about a smooth transition. Then the Indianapolis Star article appeared about USAG and one of the victims contacted MSU police to file a complaint. The MSU Police investigation commenced. Nassar's employment was terminated shortly thereafter. Work began within the Health Team and other areas of the university to improve safety. Given the challenges, my transition was postponed. I appreciate the support you provided.
The survivors' accounts are horrific. They are tragic, heartbreaking, and personally gut-wrenching. I take solace that many victims have indicated that the opportunity to confront Nassar is a step toward healing. I am proud of the exceptional work of the Special Victims Unit led by Lieutenant Andrea Munford with the steadfast leadership of Chief Dunlap. I am proud of my support of their work even though the results have been very painful to all who watched.
As Nassar's legal journey to prison was drawing to a close, more and more negative attention was focused on Michigan State University, and on me. I am pleased that statements have been made by Mr. Fitzgerald and Board members about my integrity and the fact that there is no cover-up. I support wholeheartedly the Board's decision to ask the Attorney General's Office to review the events surrounding the Nassar matter. This is an important step toward providing more assurance to the university community and to the public. In the past, I have provided assurances to the Attorney General of my full cooperation, and I will continue to do so.
As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements. Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first. Throughout my career, I have consistently and persistently spoken and worked on behalf of Team MSU. I have tried to make it not about me. I urge those who have supported my work to understand that I cannot make it about me now. Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as president according to the terms of my employment agreement.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a principled person. I have spent my entire professional career, more than 40 years, at MSU. I love this place. I have watched it grow and prosper, and it has been the honor and privilege of my life to serve as its president since 2005, and over the last few years, to have the opportunity to work with all of you toward our shared goals for MSU. I will continue to do whatever I can to help MSU prosper in the future as a Spartan in whatever role I may play.
Lou Anna K. Simon, President
John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor
Statement from Brian Breslin, MSU Board of Trustees:
"President Simon has offered her resignation to the Board of Trustees, and we will accept it. We agree with Dr. Simon that it is now time for change.
President Simon has served with distinction as MSU's President for 13 years and has been a constant presence at the university for more than 40 years. She literally has devoted her entire professional life to this institution, and more than anyone else has helped make MSU a national and international leader in higher education.
We will be working through the details of transition with President Simon through the rest of the week and will announce them as soon as we can. Many are aware President Simon delayed returning to the faculty to lead through the challenges the university has been facing. We greatly appreciate her integrity, her many contributions, and her willingness to continue to serve through transition."
--Brian Breslin, Chair, MSU Board of Trustees
Simon attended part of the session Wednesday. MSU is being sued by dozens of women, who say campus officials wrote off complaints about the popular doctor. Many of the victims' statements claimed the university got wind of the assaults in the late '90s but no actions were taken against Nassar.
"Guess what? You're a coward, too," current student and former gymnast Lindsey Lemke said Thursday, referring to Simon.
In a symbolic vote, the Michigan House voted 96-11 calling for her to step down.
Two prominent Michigan senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow publicly urged Simon to resign Wednesday.
Meanwhile, four leading legislators in Lansing called for Simon to resign or be fired by the board of trustees.
"It is clear that a lack of leadership amongst Michigan State University's highest ranks allowed victims to suffer in silence for far too long," said state House Democratic Leader Sam Singh, who is from East Lansing, where the school is located.
On Thursday, the editorial board of university newspaper The State News included a front page design: "President Simon, Resign" with images of the victims, along with a lengthy editorial.
Simon has been university president since 2005.