It's been hard to follow sports the last week given the unsavory MSU headlines. However, it did drive me back here to vent/express stuff and hopefully show a few insights.
- Mr Nassar won't see the light of day as a free man, and deservedly so. He's lucky we don't do the death penalty for crimes that don't result in death, nor do we do the various types of tortures recommended by some less charitable folks.
- MSU and USA Gymnastics were asleep at the switch and/or covering their institutional kiesters. A full look into whether that inaction is criminal is warranted (the state AG has commissioned a dedicated investigation, putting him in part of the spotlight as he campaigns for a promotion to governor), since leaving Nassar on the job amounted to child endangerment.
- I'm not sure what to make of throwing the basketball and football programs into this discussion. There were cases brought against players and coaches, but its hard to see what, if anything, was mishandled without criminal charges being filed and a full trial. However, the shortcomings elsewhere in the athletic department makes the rest of East Lansing suspect.
- My gut hunch is that there is more CYAing going on with football than basketball, although Paterno and Tressel are prime cases to remind you that even the programs you'd send your kids to gladly (yes, Tressel was OSU, but seemingly a class act other than a horrid choice in schools;-) can have ethical lapses.
The news of yesterday has John Engler getting named interim MSU president. Of course, the usual suspects on campus didn't like it, but they aren't going to like a former Republican governor turned big-business lobbyist out of pure instinct.
It's not a bad pick. You're not going to appoint someone from within MSU to the post, since they're too associated to the old crew. A uber-competent college administrator that you'd want in the job likely already has a day job and wouldn't be interested in a temp position. A respected (not if your a partisan Democrat, granted) Michigan pol who's otherwise unemployed seems a solid choice, since you need a good dose of gravitas to pull this off.
His predecessor in Lansing, Jim Blanchard (an MSU alum), wouldn't be a bad choice, if he were interested; as a Democrat, he'd not get the knee-jerk response beyond the grumbles about faculty and student stakeholders not being in the loop of the hiring decision. However, the apparent bug of Engler's GOPness is a feature in Washington, as he will be able to navigate any Education department or Justice department questions better than Blanchard.
Side point. MSU is a state institution. It's owned by the state, not the students nor the faculty. The board of regents gets elected by the citizens of Michigan and is responsible to them. Faculty and students need to be heard, but they don't own the joint, they just work/take classes there.
Meanwhile, l'affair Nassar is ruining a great MSU basketball season, as Izzo has to fend off question on how he handled rape allegations on current and former players years ago. I'm not sure if he can answer the questions fully without getting waivers from both the players and the accusers to air the case in question and justify why the book wasn't thrown at the players. Short of that, Izzo will have to give less than complete answers, although he's giving non-answers right now.
It may take time for Izzo to craft answers that get the investigative reporters off his back but yet respect the privacy of the parties involved, including the accusers, for they might not want the gory details and the rebuttals of the accused to be public record. He's in a hard spot.