Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis resigns
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis resigned Friday, becoming the latest university official to step down from his post in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal.
“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 released by the university.
“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.”
“MSU has been notified of AD Hollis’ intent to retire, effective Jan. 31,” the university said Friday in a statement. “We thank him for his many years of service and contributions to MSU athletics.”
Hollis oversaw athletics on the campus where Nassar sexually assaulted his patients and others at Michigan State’s sports clinic for nearly two decades. Although no one has alleged that Hollis had direct knowledge of Nassar’s abuse prior to the disgraced doctor’s arrest in 2016, at least six women have said that they alerted an athletic trainer, coach or staff psychologist about Nassar’s behavior and that no significant action was taken. Some of those warnings came as early as 1997.
The NCAA sent a letter of inquiry to Michigan State earlier this week, asking the school to send information about any potential violations that may have occurred related to Nassar. Several of the women who say they were abused by Nassar are former Spartans athletes in gymnastics, volleyball and rowing.
Hollis issued a public statement in response to the letter Wednesday.
“Since my first day on the job as athletic director, my focus has always been on the student-athlete,” he said. “They are at the core of our athletic department mission statement. Our first priority has always been and will always be their health and safety. In regards to the letter we received from the NCAA last night, the athletic compliance and university general counsel offices are preparing a comprehensive response. Michigan State University will cooperate with any investigation.”
“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,” Hollis said Friday.
Hollis, a Michigan State alum, started working for the athletic department in 1995. He took over as the department’s director on Jan. 1, 2008. He has received awards and praise for his innovative marketing ideas throughout his career. The teams under his watch have, however, had a history of sexual assault allegations, including an ongoing rape case involving three former members of the football team.
Several Michigan State administrators came under fire or were asked to resign during a weeklong sentencing hearing for Nassar. The hearing, which started Jan. 16, included impact statements from 156 women who say Nassar abused them.
Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon resigned Wednesday night, hours after Nassar’s hearing ended with him receiving a 40- to 175-year sentence in state prison.
William Strampel, the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State, stepped down from his post in December, citing medical reasons. Former gymnastics coach Kathie Klages, who allegedly deterred a 16-year-old gymnast from reporting Nassar in 1997, was suspended by Hollis nearly a year ago. She retired shortly thereafter.