Joel Ferguson, a real estate and telecommunications mogul who has been on the Michigan State University Board of Trustees for 30 years, literally laughed out loud in a radio interview, when it was suggested MSU president Lou Anna Simon should resign for — along with a lot of other people at MSU — looking the other way when Larry Nassar sexually assaulted hundreds of girls and women over the twenty years the university employed him (Nassar’s sentencing hearing is featuring statements from 144 of Nassar’s victims. We can safely assume the true number is far larger).
After all, Ferguson pointed out, this wasn’t football: it was just a bunch of girls, who were going to get paid off, and hey look at that cool new basketball arena:
“The meeting we had the other day was five hours. And talking Lou Anna was 10 minutes,” he said, later saying: “We unanimously decided in that meeting right away … we were going to support her staying as president.
“There’s so many more things going on at the university than just this Nassar thing.” . . .
“I mean, when you go to the basketball game, you walk into the new Breslin, and the person who hustled and got all those major donors to give money was Lou Anna Simon,” Ferguson said. “There’s just so many things that make up being president at a university that keeps everything moving and everything right with the deans, everything at a school where we have a waiting list of students who want to come.”
“The young ladies who have been wronged by this person, I think that … they will … you can never use money to make up for people’s pain and suffering, but there’s going to be something happening in their favor,” he said. “I think that when people find out that this person was … by himself, i think they’ll move on, we’ll keep the university moving and I think with the president, we have. She’ll continue to do a great job.”
Ferguson also laughed at the idea of the NCAA investigating MSU.
“This is not Penn State,” he said, referring to the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal from several years ago. “They were dealing with their football program. … They’re smart enough to know they’re not competent to walk in here on this.”
I’m slightly encouraged by the apparent fact that Ferguson’s comments seem to have been greeted by something close to universal outrage by Michigan State alumni who have reacted to them.
Simon and the entire board need to be thrown out on the street yesterday.