A day after a report raised the possibility that the NCAA could have done more long ago about problems at Michigan State, President Mark Emmert said Saturday in an email that sexual assault allegations against Spartans athletes in 2010 were “widely reported” and already being investigated by law enforcement and the school.
Emmert made the comments in an email to the NCAA Board of Governors and other university presidents. Spokeswoman Stacey Osborn provided Emmert’s email to The Associated Press in response to a request for comment about a report by The Athletic that cited a letter sent in 2010 to NCAA leadership by the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes.
The coalition letter, also provided to the AP, detailed what the group described as a “growing epidemic” of sexual assaults by male athletes against women, and used “recent reports” of sexual violence involving two Michigan State basketball players as an example. The letter also referenced an “earlier report of similar violence” involving Michigan State basketball players and “37 reports of sexual assault by MSU athletes” that had been reported in the past two years. It did not say where that figure came from.
Michigan State’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations has come under increasing scrutiny since former university sports doctor Larry Nassar was charged with assaulting scores of girls and young women for years. Nassar, who has been sentenced to decades in prison, also worked for USA Gymnastics, where some of the top gymnasts in the sport have accused him of molesting them.
Both school President Lou Anna Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis stepped down in the past week and Michigan State is facing investigations from the state attorney general as well as the NCAA and others. An ESPN report on Friday about the handling of sexual assault allegations against athletes put football coach Mark Dantonio and basketball coach Tom Izzo under scrutiny as well.
Emmert noted that he met with the coalition’s Katherine Redmond and legal expert Wendy Parker in November 2010. A letter sent by Emmert, dated Dec. 6 and addressed to Redmond and Parker, was also provided to AP. It detailed programs the NCAA was helping to implement on campuses to address sexual violence and student behavior, though it made no specific reference to Michigan State.
As for his role, Emmert told the NCAA board in his email: “The MSU cases were widely reported in the press and already being investigated by law enforcement and university officials. Kathy did not imply that these were unreported cases or that she was acting as a whistleblower to report unknown information to the letter’s recipients.”
Redmond did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.
Emmert’s email to the board also laid out numerous steps the NCAA has taken to address sexual violence in recent years, including the 2014 publication of the Handbook on Addressing Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence.
“Our work to prevent sexual assault on campuses has much further to go,” Emmert wrote to the board. “There can be no room for this scourge anywhere in higher education. The assertion that I and the NCAA are not reporting crimes, however, is blatantly false. We cannot let stories of this kind deter us from our important work.”