Michigan State University interim President John Engler really had one job: to move the school beyond the Larry Nassar scandal, which saw the former Michigan State doctor credibly accused of sexual abuse by hundreds of female gymnasts. Engler was hired to replace Lou Anna Simon, the previous university president ousted by the Nassar crisis.
A year into the task and Engler has failed. Rather than quieting the fury roiling the university, Engler reignited it with comments that belittled Nassar’s victims.
Engler submitted an 11-page resignation letter on Wednesday following pressure to step down. His last day will be Jan. 23, according to the letter.
Engler’s resignation was triggered by comments he made to The Detroit News last week, in which he appeared to suggest that some gymnasts who were abused by Nassar were enjoying “the spotlight.”
“There are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven’t been in the spotlight,” he told the paper. “In some ways they have been able to deal with this better than the ones who’ve been in the spotlight who are still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition. And it’s ending. It’s almost done.”
Nassar was found guilty of criminal sexual conduct in January of last year and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. At the time of his sentencing, Simon, then president of the university, resigned from her position and was later charged with lying to police about her knowledge of the abuse allegations.
Engler had served as interim president since Simon’s resignation. The board now reportedly plans to name and vote on a new interim president on Thursday.