East Lansing, MI
Michigan State Hall of Fame Coach Tom Izzo stepped to the podium on Friday night after his #9 Michigan State Spartans defeated Indiana for his regular post-game press conference. Inevitably he was asked about the Dr. Larry Nassar scandal and whether or not he supported Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon.
It was not a question that Spartan Nation would have asked. What could he say? If he supported her while completely supportive of the victims, the devoted father of two could be construed as course considering the horrific and inhuman crimes of the beast known as Nassar.
Could he call out his boss if he disagreed with her handling of it? Certainly he could, but who would do that? Add to it that Izzo is not a game player. In the interest of full disclosure he is NOT just someone I cover, but a close personal friend. It simply put him in a no win situation. Something he acknowledged. Here are the questions and answers from Izzo on Friday.
Q: Does Izzo have an opinion on today’s board of trustees decision?
Izzo: Yeah, you know, I guess I do. It has been a very difficult week for me. As a father, it’s been a difficult week. I listen to the stories of those courageous women and, you know, I look at the survivors who spoke and in all honesty Nassar permanently damaged and changed the lives of so many of those people. I feel like it has changed the life of all of us at Michigan State in some way, shape or form. As a father, that is difficult to even fathom. I hope that the right person was convicted, and I have to say though that I have the utmost, the utmost faith and respect for the leadership of our president, too, at Michigan State and it is a woman who has dedicated over 40 years. I have been here 33 with her, and I think I know what she stands for, and so I hope and pray that those survivors continue to grow in their life. I hope we do everything we can to make sure that this will never happen ever again, not only at this institution but any institution, to be honest with you. But it has been a lot of sad days for me in a lot of ways, and I am going to try to do anything I can to help the survivors, to help us grow from this and learn from it and move forward. That is about all I have to say.
Q: How would Izzo react to those who want a change in leadership?
Izzo: You know, when I talk to you guys about basketball, it’s really easy. I don’t really give a damn if you agree with me or not. But I mean, you have to understand that there is nothing I can say that is going to be right, right now, and there is nothing that is going to make anybody right. I will just stick by what I said. Survivors are the most courageous people. I can’t even imagine. You know, I hate when I am put in a position when I can almost start saying, ‘I know what you are going through’ because I have no clue what they are going through and never will, and hope I never find out. But, I also just got to say that, that is a situation that I think is being dealt with and has been dealt with and there is no way I could waiver on the support for my administration and my president knowing the 35 years I have spent here. What she has done for this university, what she stood for, not only athletics as a small part, but for women’s groups, for different groups, I think she has been a champion, so I hope and pray that the survivors get through this, but I also hope that we take a serious look at what we’re doing.
Those answers came under heavy scrutiny and have caused Izzo to take some shots from media and advocates of the victims. Tonight he issued this clarification.
“On Friday night in my postgame press conference, I used the wrong words when trying to express my belief that Larry Nassar and anyone else who broke the law should be held accountable for their crimes. My overall message was, and remains, that I have tremendous admiration for the courage the survivors have shown, and that Larry Nassar has permanently damaged the lives of so many people and deserves all the punishment that he receives.”
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