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MSU Trustee Ferguson slammed for comments about "this Nassar thing"

Jan 23, 2018

Updated 11:02am 1/24:

Michigan State University Trustee Joel Ferguson is apologizing for comments he made about the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case on a radio show earlier in the week. Ferguson's spokeswoman, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, released a statement late Tuesday evening that was obtained by Michigan Radio Wednesday. 

"Joel Ferguson deeply regrets the inadvertent comment he made on a local radio program that trivialized the experience of the victims of Larry Nassar. He recognizes the suffering of these young women and had intended to refer to the incident as 'the Nassar tragedy.' Mr. Ferguson deeply regrets his comment and apologizes to those he offended."

Original story published Tuesday afternoon:

A Michigan State University trustee is drawing strong rebuke for his recent comments about the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case.

Trustee Joel Ferguson was interviewed Monday on WVFN AM 730. You can listen to the entire interview here.

Ferguson started talking about MSU President Lou Anna Simon – who’s facing calls to resign because MSU failed to pursue complaints about abuse by Nassar.

"There's so many more things going [on] at the university than just this Nassar thing," - MSU Trustee Joel Ferguson

Ferguson said it only took trustees ten minutes at a five-hour meeting last week to decide Simon should stay on the job.

“We unanimously decided in that meeting right away that ... we were going to support her staying as the President,” Ferguson said. “Because there’s so many more things going on at the university then this Nassar thing."

On social media, Ferguson’s comments were criticized as “horrifying” and tone-deaf. His comments come as more than 100 women deliver so-called victim impact statements in court about Nassar’s abuse.

Credit Twitter

Despite the mounting pressure on Simon – according to the Lansing State Journal, MSU’s Faculty Senate Tuesday afternoon called for a vote of no-confidence in Simon – Ferguson says there’s no way she’s going to get pushed out.

“That will not happen, period,” Ferguson said in the interview. “She’s a fighter and ... what she’s done for the university, she’s not going to get run out of there by what somebody else did.”

Sam Singh, the Democratic leader of the Michigan State House of Representatives, is calling on Ferguson to resign.

Fellow MSU trustee Mitch Lyons said in a statement Tuesday that he remembers last week's meeting differently then Ferguson. Lyons’ statement says he recalls discussing Simon’s status and the Larry Nassar case for “the majority” of the five-hour meeting. Lyons has previously also called on Simon to resign.