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Archive for January 19, 2018

Jan. 19, 2017 — A much louder separation

It was sometime during the parade of witnesses reading victim impact statements in an East Lansing, Mich. courtroom that word came down from USA Gymnastics that it would no longer be holding U.S. women’s national team camps and residency at the Karolyi Ranch outside Huntsville, Tex. It is there where former national team doctor Larry Nassar is alleged to have sexually assaulted dozens of members of the national team pool — both at the senior and at the junior levels.

It is easy, and perhaps a bit too convenient, to conclude that the reason for leaving the ranch is the memories left behind on the part of many of Nassar’s victims, including those who shot to world prominence through winning Olympic gold medals.

But I wonder if there is something else. And this we may not find out until the end of a Harris County investigation into sexual abuse at the ranch, and we may not find out until there is a full inquisition of the powers-that-be overseeing the sport.

In so many words, what did Bela and Martha Karolyi know about the abuses, and when did they know it?

What did Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon know about Nassar, and when did she know it?

Were there outside forces — shoe companies, alumni/ae, boosters — keeping a lid on what was going on?

As we’ve learned from the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State, it is possible that the very highest levels of athletic administration could have gotten wind of this. And if was proven that no action was taken in a reasonable time frame, it represents an irreparable breach of trust, a lack of institutional competency, and should constitute the commission of a crime.

As the witness statements conclude today, go back over them and listen to the number of times that oversight (or the lack thereof) is being blamed for Nassar’s crimes. If you’re sending your daughter to university as a Division I athlete, this should get your attention.