Lou Anna Simon, former president of Michigan State University, testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, on June 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. The hearing focused on preventing abuse in Olympic and amateur athletes and ensuring a safe and secure environment for athletes.  Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sports & Politics Intersect: Former MSU president facing felony charges, USAG fights USOC as Nassar scandal continues

“... If you really want to stop this sort of abuse, you’ve got to send people the message that, ‘You’re going to go to jail.’"  - John Manly, attorney for more than 100 women who were abused by former USA Gymnastics trainer Larry Nassar, to The New York Times.  

While USA Gymnastics does not plan to quietly give up its role as the nation’s governing body of the sport, former Michigan State University president Lou Anna K. Simon, who offered some misguided support of jailed doctor and trainer Larry Nassar, has come under heat for her role in an alleged cover-up of the situation.

It’s just another week in the continuing plight of USA Gymnastics, which earlier this month was told by the United States Olympic Committee that the process to remove the organization as the sport’s governing body had begun. However, USA Gymnastics apparently does not plan to relinquish that status on its own and will likely have a chance to plead its case to remain the NGB of a sport in turmoil.

For the time being, USA Gymnastics remains in charge, but its future is murky at the very least. Last week, the organization’s chief operating officer, Ron Galimore, resigned amid reports he also helped cover up sexual abuse committed by Nassar.

It’s just another negative hit for the USAG. As USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland told WBUR, “We believe the challenges facing the organization are simply more than it is capable of overcoming in its current form.”

At Michigan State, meanwhile, Simon is facing felony charges after she allegedly lied to police regarding what she knew about the sexual abuse trail left behind by Nassar, who spent years as a trainer for the school. For more than two years, Simon claimed she did not know the nature of the complaints against Nassar. However, she was part of a 2014 meeting with her senior adviser and then-head of Michigan State’s Title IX office, Paulette Granberry Russell, that addressed the investigation of Nassar including allegations of sexual abuse.

If convicted, Simon could face up to four years in prison. For Nassar's victims, however, the emotional pain lingers even with Nassar behind bars, USA Gymnastics being held accountable and the law catching up to those who felt the need to cover for the disgraced trainer and the organization and institution that employed him. 

And more victims of Nassar’s continue to speak out and use their inner strength as a means of catharsis and education. Alyssa Baumann, a member of the 2014 American world championship team, told NBC Sports, “I feel like I have reached a point where I can share my truth. Even though it makes me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, I believe sharing my story will help me heal, and more importantly, help others who are still dealing with this trauma.”  

The victims have forged a bond none would wish necessary, but it is one that hopefully has them on a path to justice.

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This week in sports and politics history: Betting on his own team costs William Cox ownership of the Philadelphia Phillies


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"Do you mean to tell me Mr. Cox is betting on baseball?" - Philadelphia Phillies manager Bucky Harris asking a secretary about Phillies owner William Cox

The Philadelphia Phillies were in a perpetual rut for three whole decades. From the 1919 through the 1948 seasons, the team averaged a .371 winning percentage. The franchise owners weren’t dedicated to spending to put a winning team on the field until Gerald Nugent took over in 1942. And during Nugent’s tenure, not much changed except the desire to win. But his short pockets had the team on the brink of bankruptcy. 

After a failed effort to receive financial help from the MLB, Nugent sold the team to William Cox, who had big plans for improving it. Cox invested in the developmental farm system and increased payroll to bring in talent to help the team improve immediately. Cox also brought in a new manager, Bucky Harris, who had won a World Series and a couple of pennants as the manager of the Washington Senators.

Harris, however, would be Cox’s downfall. Despite seeing clear improvements on the field, Cox still wasn’t happy with the job Harris was doing and fired him. Harris, on the day that he was fired, alleged that Cox was betting on Phillies games, which sparked an investigation from league commissioner Kenesaw Landis. Cox initially denied the charges but would end up admitting to gambling on baseball and was subsequently banished from the sport forever. 

In less than a year, Cox bought the Phillies, made holistic changes that would lead to the team winning a World Series seven years later, and sold the team after being exiled for gambling. During his life, Cox also owned two pro football teams and founded the International Soccer league. No one would be banned from baseball again until 1989 when Pete Rose was suspended by the league. 

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