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US university athletics director resigns over sex abuse scandal

Chicago, United States | AFP | The director of the athletics program at Michigan State University, where convicted child molester Larry Nassar practiced medicine, resigned Friday as pressure intensifies for answers over how abuse persisted for decades.

The university’s president stepped down Wednesday evening, hours after Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison, amid calls for congressional inquiries and resignations.

Mark Hollis, director of MSU’s prestigious intercollegiate athletics program since 2008, said Friday he also was stepping down from his post.

“It’s been an absolute honor to guide the Athletic Department for the last decade. That being said, today I am announcing my retirement,” Hollis said in a statement.

The announcement followed seven days of hearings at a Lansing, Michigan courtroom that saw 160 women come forward with gripping testimony.

They described in detail Nassar’s abuse and the suffering it inflicted — and at times pointed to the failure of officials at MSU and amateur athletics institutions to stop the once highly regarded doctor.

MSU has come under scrutiny in particular for a 2014 investigation that cleared Nassar of serious wrongdoing, as well as for accusations by some women that they reported his abuse years ago but were not believed.

Democratic senators Jeanne Shaheen and Gary Peters this week called for congressional investigations to figure out who was responsible for failing to stop Nassar.

The NCAA, a body that oversees US collegiate sports, opened an investigation into MSU’s handling of the case, and the university’s governing board has come under fire for its response to the crisis.

“I am not running away from anything, I am running toward something. Comfort, compassion and understanding for the survivors and our community; togetherness, time and love for my family,” Hollis said, adding that he would cooperate with all investigations.

The US Olympic Committee on Thursday demanded the entire board of USA Gymnastics resign, three members having already done so.

The USOC has also promised an independent probe would examine the committee’s actions in addition to USA Gymnastics.

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