#SportsReport: $500M Settlement Reached With MSU In Nassar Case

May 17, 2018

NASSAR SETTLEMENT:

Officials say Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to settle claims from more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history.

The deal announced Wednesday surpasses the $100 million-plus paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, though the Nassar agreement involves far more victims.

Michigan State was accused of ignoring or dismissing complaints about Nassar, some as far back as the 1990s. The school had insisted that no one covered up assaults, although Nassar's boss was later charged with failing to properly supervise him and committing his own sexual misconduct.

"We are truly sorry to all the survivors and their families for what they have been through, and we admire the courage it has taken to tell their stories," said Brian Breslin, chairman of Michigan State's governing board. "We recognize the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention."

It is not clear how much each victim will receive, although the money will not be divided equally. It is also unclear where the money will come from. University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said school leaders will now work on a way to pay the bill.

Rachael Denhollander of Louisville, Kentucky, who in 2016 was the first woman to publicly identify herself as a victim, said the agreement "reflects the incredible damage which took place on MSU's campus." But she said she still has not seen any "meaningful reform" at the university.

Nassar treated campus athletes and scores of young gymnasts at his Michigan State office, building an international reputation while working at the same time for USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

The university and lawyers for 332 victims announced the deal after negotiating privately with the help of a mediator. Under the agreement, $425 million will be paid to current claimants and $75 million will be set aside for any future claims. Lawyers will also be compensated out of the $500 million pool.

Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to molesting women and girls under the guise of treatment and was caught with child pornography. He is serving three prison sentences that will likely keep him locked up for life.

More than 250 women and girls gave statements in court when Nassar was sentenced in January and February. Since that time, even more accusers have stepped forward, which accounts for the larger number of people covered by the Michigan State agreement.

Nassar's assaults were mostly committed in Michigan at his Lansing-area home, campus clinic and area gyms. But his accusers also said he molested them at a gymnastics-training ranch in Texas and at national and international competitions. Nassar's work far away from campus was spelled out in his employment contract with Michigan State.

During the sentencing hearings, many accusers described an ultra-competitive gymnastics culture in which authority figures could not be questioned and Nassar was free to abuse young patients year after year. They said they had little choice to see doctors other than Nassar, who was renowned throughout the sport.

He counted on his charm and reputation to deflect any questions. He was so brazen that he sometimes molested patients in front of their parents, shielding the young girls with his body or a sheet. His clinic was decorated with signed photos of Olympic stars, bolstering his credentials to star-struck athletes and their families.

Olympic gold medalists Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney say they were among Nassar's victims.

Other cases involved participants in soccer, figure skating, rowing, softball, cheerleading, wrestling, diving, dance, and track and field.

"This historic settlement came about through the bravery of more than 300 women and girls who had the courage to stand up and refuse to be silenced," said John Manly, the lead attorney for the victims.

The scandal rocked Michigan State, leading to the resignation of President Lou Anna Simon on Jan. 24 and athletic director Mark Hollis two days later. The fallout has also pushed out many leaders at the top of competitive gymnastics.

The school has about 39,000 undergraduate students. Its general fund budget is $1.36 billion. Roughly $983 million comes from tuition and fees, and $281 million is from the state.

The settlement applies only to Michigan State. Lawsuits are still pending against Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and an elite gymnastics club in the Lansing-area.

Under the deal, the victims are required to withdraw their support for two bills passed by the state Senate. They would strip an immunity defense in sexual misconduct civil cases if public entities are negligent and waive minors from legal notice requirements in such lawsuits, Manly said.

Other measures that would retroactively extend the time limit to sue and expand and strengthen Michigan's mandatory reporter law remain alive in the House.

COLLEGE SOFTBALL

The unseeded University at Albany will take on top-seeded Oregon Thursday in the The Eugene regional at 8:30 in Oregon.

UAlbany captured the program’s seventh America East Conference championship Sunday after defeating UMass Lowell twice.

NBA

James Harden and Eric Gordon each scored 27 points to lead a balanced attack and the Houston Rockets routed the Golden State Warriors 127-105 on Wednesday night to even the Western Conference finals at one game apiece.

The Rockets didn't trail after the first quarter and led by double digits for most of the night. They head to Oakland, California for Game 3 on Sunday night feeling much better after rebounding from a deflating 119-106 loss in the series opener.

P.J. Tucker added a playoff career-high 22 and Trevor Ariza had 19 as both bounced back after struggling in Game 1.

Kevin Durant had 38 points after scoring 37 in the opener, but Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for just 24 points.

Elsewhere in the NBA:

Houston's James Harden, Cleveland's LeBron James and Anthony Davis of New Orleans are the finalists for the NBA's MVP award.

Harden, who led the league in scoring, has twice been a runner-up for the award, including last year when Russell Westbrook won.

James has won the MVP award four times. Davis was also a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. The winners will be announced June 25.

In other NBA news:

A person familiar with the search tells The Associated Press that the Milwaukee Bucks have reached agreement with Mike Budenholzer to become the team's next coach. The former NBA Coach of the Year will replace Joe Prunty, the former assistant who went 21-16 in the regular season after replacing the fired Jason Kidd in late January.

NHL

Jonathan Marchessault scored two goals — including an empty-netter in the closing seconds — to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 3 of the Western Conference final Wednesday night.

Vegas took a 2-1 series lead and is now two wins from advancing to the Stanley Cup final. The Golden Knights improved to 5-1 at home in the playoffs, and host Game 4 on Friday night.

James Neal and Alex Tuch also scored for Vegas, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33 shots.

Mark Scheifele scored both of Winnipeg's goals and has a playoff-leading 14 goals in 15 postseason games. Connor Hellebuyck had 26 saves for the Jets, who arrived in Las Vegas having outscored their opposition 23-15 in road games during the playoffs.

MLB

Xander Bogaerts hit a three-run homer, J.D. Martinez added a two-run shot and the Boston Red Sox avoided their first series sweep this season with a 6-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.

The win also prevented Boston from matching its season-high losing streak of three games.

Chris Sale, who is 4-1, gave up just two runs and two hits in five innings, striking out nine and walking four.

Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his 12th save.

The Red Sox host the Orioles for the first game of a four game series Thursday at 7:10 p.m.

Elsewhere in the majors:

Justin Verlander pitched a five-hitter for his first shutout in three years and Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer as the Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-0. Verlander was superb in ending his two-game skid, finishing with seven strikeouts to reach 2,500 for his career.

Trevor Bauer struck out 10 in eight sparkling innings, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Tigers 6-0 on Wednesday, avoiding a three-game sweep in Detroit.

Pinch-hitter Josh Bell singled to break a seventh-inning tie, and the streaking Pittsburgh Pirates beat the skidding Chicago White Sox 3-2. Pittsburgh has won seven of eight. Chicago has lost eight of nine and 13 of 15 and owns the worst record in the American League,

Nick Pivetta tied a career high with 11 strikeouts, Cesar Hernandez homered and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-1. Philadelphia climbed eight games over .500. The Orioles have dropped two of three and have the second- worst record in the American League.

Dexter Fowler reached base four times and drove in two runs in his return to the lineup and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Minnesota Twins 7-5.

J.A. Happ reached three times and allowed only two baserunners over seven innings, and the Toronto Blue Jays got their first road victory against the New York Mets, 12-1 on a rainy day in Queens. Happ struck out 10 while pitching two-hit ball. The left-hander also singled twice and walked.

Both games that the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees were supposed to try to complete in a makeshift semi-doubleheader have been postponed because of rain. An announcement on the scoreboard at Nationals Park says the two games will be rescheduled for June 18.

C.J. Cron homered and scored three runs, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat Kansas City 5-3 to complete a three-game sweep of the Royals.. Kansas City has lost five straight and seven of eight.

Scooter Gennett homered a half-inning after the second baseman saved two runs with a diving catch on a difficult popup, helping the Cincinnati Reds avoid a sweep by the San Francisco Giants with a 6-3 win.

Bartolo Colon laughed off having a line drive hit him in the stomach to allow four hits in 7 2/3 shutout innings and give the Texas Rangers a 5-1 win over the Seattle Mariners. On the cusp of his 45th birthday, Colon put together arguably his best performance of the season.

Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, Christian Yelich and Tyler Saladino homered in the first four innings off Matt Koch, and the Milwaukee Brewers routed the Diamondbacks 8-2 to take two of three in Arizona. The Brewers have won three of four. Arizona has lost seven of eight.

The Los Angeles Dodgers erased a four-run deficit and still lost their sixth game in a row when J.T. Realmuto's tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning helped Miami win 6-5, clinching the series.

Ronald Acuna Jr. drove in Ozzie Albies with the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning to send the Atlanta Braves past the Chicago Cubs 4-1.

In other MLB news:

Minnesota catcher Jason Castro will miss the rest of the season following surgery to remove the meniscus in his right knee. The Twins say Castro's rehabilitation will take five to six months, putting the 30-year-old on track to be ready for spring training.  Castro has been on the disabled list since May 5.

The Mets have placed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hip flexor.

The St. Louis Cardinals have placed struggling reliever Luke Gregerson on the 10-day disabled list with a right shoulder impingement.

Edwin Encarnacion was scratched from Cleveland's lineup against Detroit because of back spasms.

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Carlos Gomez has been put on the disabled list with a strained right groin.

Oakland catcher Bruce Maxwell will miss a four-game series at Toronto that starts Thursday because he cannot enter Canada while awaiting sentencing in Arizona on a gun-related charge. Maxwell will be on the restricted list during the series, then rejoin the A's when they return to Oakland.

The Houston Astros recalled outfielder Tony Kemp from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday after sending Jake Marisnick down.

NFL

The Carolina Panthers say they've signed a "definitive agreement" to sell the team to David Tepper, the founder and president of global hedge fund Appaloosa Management.

The deal is subject to NFL approval. The Panthers said in a release the transaction is expected to close in July. Tepper has been a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2009.

In other NFL news:

The Seattle Seahawks have signed first-round pick running back Rashaad Penny to his rookie contract. The Seahawks have now signed six of their nine draft picks.

The Tennessee Titans have agreed to terms with veteran wide receiver Nick Williams. Williams has played 22 games in his career with the Atlanta Falcons over the past three seasons and with Washington in 2013. He has 28 catches for 263 yards and two touchdowns.

The Oakland Raiders have signed defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and receiver Marcell Ateman to rookie contracts. The deals mean the Raiders now have five of their nine draft picks under contract.

The Buffalo Bills plan to retire Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas' No. 34 jersey Oct. 29 when they host the New England Patriots. The five-time Pro Bowl selection played for the Bills from 1988-99 and was a part of four straight AFC championship teams.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Duke has reinstated specialist Austin Parker to the football team, five months after he was kicked off the team.

Coach David Cutcliffe says the kicker-punter has regained the trust of the coaching staff.

Parker was dismissed from the team before the Quick Lane Bowl in December after he was suspended from school for violating unspecified university academic policy.

In other college football news:

Clemson freshman defensive tackle Josh Belk is leaving the Tigers after only four months. Clemson says that circumstances in Belk's life changed, which is why he transferred.

OBIT

Mike Slive, the former Southeastern Conference commissioner who guided the league through a period of unprecedented success and prosperity, has died. He was 77.

The Southeastern Conference says Slive died Wednesday in Birmingham, Alabama, where he lived with his wife of 49 years, Liz.

Slive retired in 2015 after 13 years as commissioner. He was battling prostate cancer at the time he stepped down.

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