Michigan State University Athletic Director Mark Hollis resigned Friday, two days after the school’s president stepped down amid a storm of criticism about how it handled the sexual assault scandal that led to the conviction of former school faculty member and USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar.
Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty of sexually abusing more than 150 female gymnasts, some as young as 6 years old, under the guise of medical treatment, for more than two decades.
Hollis disclosed his resignation to a small group of reporters on campus. When asked why he was stepping down, Hollis tearfully said, “Because I care.” Hollis also said he hoped his resignation “has a little bit, a little bit, of helping that healing process.”
More than 150 of Nassar’s victims gave emotional statements at his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan. Several of the victims who addressed the court were former athletes at the university, and many victims charged the school with mishandling complaints about Nassar as far back as the late 1990s.
Nassar was also accused of molesting other young gymnasts while employed by USA Gymnastics, the sport’s U.S. governing body. Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney are among victims who said in recent months they were assaulted by Nassar during treatment. Many victims have accused USA Gymnastics of ignoring or concealing their complaints in an effort to avoid negative publicity.
University President Lou Anna Simon submitted her resignation late Wednesday, just after Nassar’s sentencing. The school’s governing board expressed support for Simon, but she eventually succumbed to pressure from students, faculty and lawmakers. There is no evidence Simon was aware Nassar was committing acts of abuse, but some of the more than 150 accusers said their complaints to the school over the years were not addressed.
University board members, who are elected in statewide votes, are also under intense scrutiny, prompting two members to say they would not seek re-election. Board member Joel Ferguson apologized this week for saying previously that some victims were ambulance chasers seeking a payday.
Michigan State had long resisted pleas for an independent investigation, but last week asked state Attorney General Bill Schuette to review the scandal.
In a Twitter post Friday, university trustee Mitch Lyons expressed regret that the school had failed to respond appropriately.
A student march and protest was scheduled for Friday evening.