Michigan State athletic director announces retirement

Fallout continues from Larry Nassar case
Posted at 1:16 PM, Jan 26, 2018

Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis announced his retirement Friday, two days after a former Michigan State athletic trainer was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years for multiple sexually-based crimes.

Hollis' retirement also comes the same day that ESPN's Outside The Lines published a damning report that alleges Michigan State covered up or ignored sexual assault crimes committed by athletes and coaches on the school's basketball and football programs.

Hollis, who was been the school's athletic director since 2008, will officially step down on Wednesday.

"I'm not running away from anything," Hollis said at a news conference. "I've always been a Spartan, I always will be."

Hollis said he was not asked to retire, but instead it was a decision he and his wife, Nancy, made.

The resignation comes two days after MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon submitted her resignation and a day after an ESPN Outside the Lines report found the Michigan State University failed to hand over documents that outlined accusations of sexual assault by former trainer Larry Nassar to Title IX investigators.

Earlier this week, the NCAA sent a letter directed to Hollis announcing they would be investigating the university's handling of Nassar.

"Larry Nassar's heinous crimes of record against more than 150 victims raise serious concerns about institutional practices, student-athlete safety and the institution's actions to protect individuals from his behavior," the letter reads.

Hollis said, during the press conference, he has been interviewed by the FBI and MSU Police Department, and said he has responded to every question. He also said he doesn't believe he ever met Nassar.

Hollis graduated from the university in 1985.

He served as associate athletics director for external relations in 1995 and spent five years on the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee and served as committee chair in 2016-17.

During his time as AD, the Spartans won a national championship in women's cross country, 30 Big Ten Championships, three Final Fours, eight bowl games and the football team appeared in the College Football Playoff.

In 2012, Hollis was named Athletic Director of the Year by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal/Daily. 

Hollis released the following statement after the press conference:

Michigan State University is a great institution, and its greatest strengths are the people who call themselves Spartans. Many, if not all, of those Spartans are hurting, especially the courageous survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse. My heart breaks thinking about the incomprehensible pain all of them and their families have experienced. Along with many, I was brought to tears as I listened to their statements. There simply aren’t the right words to express our sympathy.

Our campus, and beyond, has been attacked by evil, an individual who broke trust and so much more. As a campus community, we must do everything we can to ensure this never happens again; to make sure any sexual assault never occurs. But to do so, we must listen and learn lessons. Only then can we truly begin the process of healing. I have tried to do this since first learning about the abuse in September 2016.

At the beginning of my tenure as Athletic Director, I established a mission statement – one with the student-athlete at its core. Our first priority has always been their health and safety. That focus, along with our core values, has guided our department each and every day. Values such as respect, accountability, and perhaps most importantly integrity, have served as a foundation through good times and bad – perhaps at no time more than the last few days.

I spoke to my administrative staff, coaches, student-athletes, and most importantly, my wife Nancy and my children, over the course of the past week. They are all incredible people, amazing Spartans. I have always been a Spartan, and always will be. It’s been an absolute honor to guide the Athletic Department for the last decade. That being said, today I am announcing my retirement.

This was not an easy decision for my family, and you should not jump to any conclusions based on our decision – listen to facts. 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.

Much attention has recently been given to outside investigations into the University and the Athletic Department, including those both by the Michigan Attorney General and the NCAA. Let me be clear, that in retirement, I will fully cooperate with these and any other investigations. As a University, we must focus on the healing of the survivors and the entire community.