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It’s becoming clear: Michigan State prized image protection far more than the truth

It’s becoming clear: Michigan State prized image protection far more than the truth

There were two major stories released Friday concerning the ongoing disaster at Michigan State. One prompted a lot of heat, a lot of sound and fury. The other was more troubling.

ESPN’s Outside The Lines had a lengthy piece that attempted to tie the Larry Nassar abuse atrocities to physical and sexual violence allegations against the school’s football and men’s basketball programs. The ties were tenuous. And while the report gained a lot of traction because it placed Hall of Fame basketball coach Tom Izzo and highly successful football coach Mark Dantonio under scrutiny, it also included a lot of allegations that resulted in charges either not being filed, or being dismissed. Which may ultimately be more of a law enforcement problem than an athletic problem.

That said, I’m not discounting the story, which should help prompt a fearless and thorough review of the entirety of Michigan State’s athletic department – Izzo and Dantonio included – in the wake of athletic director Mark Hollis’ disingenuous retirement Friday. At a crossroads, the school must decide what it wants to be, how it wants to be represented to the world, and who its most public representatives should be.

But the story that appeared in the Lansing State Journal later Friday was bigger. It lacked the more sensational quality of a potential football/basketball scandal, but it strikes more profoundly at the heart of what the Nassar tragedy is all about:

• Disregard for victims.

• An organized institutional effort to deceive, deny and hide the truth, enabling Nassar in the process.

In that story, the State Journal reports that Michigan State’s utterly botched 2014 Title IX investigation of a complaint against Nassar led to two sets of conclusions: a shortened version presented to the victim, Amanda Thomashow, and a more damaging conclusion that was kept from her. The latter version was sent to the university’s Office of General Counsel, Nassar and his boss at the College of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel.

The newspaper got both copies of the report. The one that was sent to Thomashow had the following conclusion: “We cannot find that the conduct was of a sexual nature. Thus, it did not violate the Sexual Harassment Policy. However, we find the claim helpful in that it allows us to examine certain practices at the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic.”

The conclusion in the copy that was sent to the others went much further:

To keep that from the victim who brought the claim against Nassar is unconscionable. And the fact that Nassar was basically allowed to return to business as usual after being rei

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