To make something very clear – I do not believe in guilt by association, so please keep that in mind as you read this article.
Unless you have sequestered yourself over the last month or so you have heard the media stories about Larry Nassar and his sexual abuse of hundreds (if not thousands) of young girls who were mostly gymnasts both at Michigan State University and through his work with the U. S. Olympic Committee. It is horrifying and, unfortunately, 100% believable.
Nasser was just this week sentenced to 175 years in prison for his crimes and during that sentencing the presiding judge did this: “I’ve just signed your death warrant,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said in a Lansing, Michigan, courtroom. “I find that you don’t get it, that you’re a danger. That you remain a danger.”
That almost vindictive statement came on the heels of a letter Nasser wrote to here trying to explain away the situation. In that letter he wrote:
“I was a good doctor because my treatments worked, and those patients that are now speaking out are the same ones that praised and came back over and over,” Nassar wrote. “The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel I broke their trust. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned. Well, I think every man among us can related to that centuries old saying – but still get sick to our stomachs to hear it used as an excuse for abhorrent and criminal actions.
But this is a Pitt football blog and what does the above have to do with us? Well, taken separately Nasser’s actions, especially his crimes committed against the olympic gymnasts, may not have any connection. But in situations like this you have to look to see what the avenues are where investigations and blame’s bloodletting travel.
One of those led directly to the University’s Athletic Department and then on up to the President of the University herself. This quote from one of the victims at the sentencing hearing’s Victim Impact statements tells us a great deal:
The emphasis there is mine and it shows what is now the big issue to follow – who knew what and when did they know it? Investigations into that have already started with ESPN in the lead and the dominoes are starting to fall with the President of MSU resigning and their Athletic Director doing the same soon after.
Then just yesterday both Tom Izzo, MSU’s basketball coach and it’s football coach, Mark Dantonio, called press conferences to publicly disavow any personal connections to this scandal. It’s big and getting bigger by the day and now has encompassed looking into how the MSU athletic department, teams and staffs have handled previous sexual abuse cases brought to their attention.
Dantonio has already put one foot in his mouth with this statement he gave when asked back in June about these issues: “This is new ground for us,” Dantonio answered. “We’ve been here 11 years — it has not happened previously.”
However this is what ESPN found had actually happened in the time period he referenced:
“Since Dantonio’s tenure began in 2007, at least 16 MSU football players have been accused of sexual assault or violence against women, according to interviews and public records obtained by Outside the Lines. Even more, Dantonio was said to be involved in handling the discipline in at least one of the cases several years ago. “
So is there a tie between MSU from Pitt in these issues? It is pretty clear there is at least one in that our current Head Coach came from there just three years ago. That doesn’t mean Pat Narduzzi was involved in any misdeeds. But there is a connection and you can be sure that any investigations that take place with these MSU wrongdoings, and there are some and more come to light every day, every employee in the athletic is going to be looked at under a bright light.
“Yet former Michigan State sexual assault counselor Lauren Allswede, who left the university in 2015 over frustrations about how administrators handled sexual assault cases, told Outside the Lines that MSU administrators’ entire approach to such cases has been misguided for years. The biggest issue? Complaints involving athletes were routinely investigated and handled by athletic director Hollis’ department, and sometimes even coaches, she says.”
Read this article from ESPN in its entirety to see just exactly what has been happening over the years at MSU. It is rather sickening and shows direct ties to MSU’s football team and program in the years before Narduzzi left MSU and came to Pitt. If you remember Narduzzi was at MSU from 2007 until December of 2014.
There were at least six serious incidents involving football players that took place between 2009 and 2014 and none of the football players involved were suspended or expelled from the team. Also remember that just because an incident didn’t go to court it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. University’s have a moral mandate to investigate and take disciplinary actions separate from the judicial systems.
All this was known way earlier by ESPN, and of course by Dantonio and staff, even if Dantonio told the media “This is new ground for us,” Dantonio answered. “We’ve been here 11 years — it has not happened previously.”
We Pitt fans need to understand that this MSU scandal and all the investigations that will take place – believe me this is just the tip of the iceberg – will keep being in the news media so don’t be surprised when investigators get down into the weeds all the MSU football (and BB) staff employed at the time are going to be mentioned. That means Narduzzi’s name is going to pop up now and then also.
Again, there is no guilt by association in this case so far.
From what I know of Pat Narduzzi, and from his off the field actions he has taken in disciplining his players, I’d be shocked if there was any wrongdoing on his individual part while he was at MSU. Narduzzi certainly has acted the in exact opposite way here at Pitt and has done his job as a leader of the Pitt student/athletes just as I hoped he would.
I have written many times that as a head football coach I think his work outside the white lines has been better than his actual gameday coaching. But I have pretty strict standards when it comes to leadership and he’s met them so far.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that all the problems MSU have, and they are legion, doesn’t affect Pitt in any way, but I’d be remiss if I said it was an impossibility that it might do so.