Mozey: Sentencing Larry Nassar is the first step to resolve integrity of gymnastics


Brian Mozey sports editor 2017-18

Brian Mozey

On Wednesday morning, I was able to breathe easier after I watched a disgusting man receive one of the worst punishments I’ve ever seen in my life.

As the words “175 years” rang throughout the courtroom in Lansing, Michigan, there seemed to be a feeling of relief for every single person in that room.

Dr. Larry Nassar is going to be in prison for the rest of his life.

Nassar, a former doctor for the American gymnastics team, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in the prison by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, according to the New York Times, and she didn’t hold back in her final statement before sentencing.

“You’ve done nothing to deserve to walk outside a prison again,” Aquilina said. “I just signed your death warrant.”

Nassar was accused of sexually abusing more than 150 women and girls during his time as team doctor. Putting him behind bars is step one of the process, but there’s still three more steps to take.

The second step is surrounding USA Gymnastics, the governing body for gymnastics in the United States. The entire staff should resign or be fired from their positions and according to a CNN report, the U.S. Olympic Committee is requesting the staff of USA Gymnastics to resign.

It took them long enough to respond to the situation with U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun sending a letter on Jan. 24 stating USA Gymnastics needs a full turnover and a resignation from all 21 staff members.

The Jan. 24 letter was too late. That letter needed to come sooner than the day Nassar was being sentenced.

The second and third part go hand in hand with the fact that USA Gymnastics needs to press the restart button. The 21 staff members need to leave the program and the U.S. Olympic Committee needs to create a brand-new rule book so this never happens again.

There should be no current staff member keeping their job. Shame on you and shame on this program for not stepping in and stopping this immediately.

These women and girls, at the time, didn’t have much of a voice. They were minors and believed in a man that should be trusted as a doctor. That trust crumbled.

After hearing the testimonies from almost every woman and girl describing what happened with Nassar, I was speechless. I couldn’t believe this happened to these athletes who dreamed of winning a gold medal at the Olympics and now that’s a second thought to what happened in the process of winning those medals.

I couldn’t believe how no one knew this was happening in the background. I’m proud of each of these athletes for speaking up on this situation because this couldn’t have been an easy subject to speak about, but it was needed.

Finally, the last part of this process is punishing Michigan State University for hiding the sexual abuse Nassar committed during his time at the university. 

CNN reported there were several students who reported sexual abuse from Nassar and told Michigan State’s president Lou Anna Simon, which she ignored. After the last day of sentencing, Simon decided to step down as president.

“Throughout my career, I have consistently and persistently spoken and worked on behalf of Team MSU,” Simon said in a press release by Michigan State University. “I have tried to make it not about me. I urge those who have supported my work to understand that I cannot make it about me now. Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as president according to the terms of my employment agreement.”

The New York Times reported former Michigan State gymnastics coach Kathie Klages was being accused for covering up sexual abuse allegations resulting in her stepping down as head coach last February.

The last individual who needed to step down from his position was Michigan State’s Athletics Director Mark Hollis. That happened on Friday morning, according to ESPN

If all of these allegations are true for Michigan State, then the Spartans are taking the right steps to remove the people around the problem. Now, the NCAA needs to punish Michigan State University and the athletics department to make a statement to never allow this to happen again at any university.

Once these four steps are fully completed then the focus can be put toward the future of gymnastics. The entire focus shouldn’t be on the gymnastics program because there are still 150 women and girls who need to receive help and support from everyone.

Each of those athletes will be affected for a long time and possibly a lifetime, so the support needs to be on changing the culture and rebuilding this sport from the ground up.

The focus now shouldn’t be on winning gold medals, but rather changing the look of gymnastics so this never happens again. Ever.