Northwestern warned its fans not to taunt Michigan State about Larry Nassar

Northwestern warned its fans not to taunt Michigan State about the Larry Nassar scandal (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)

Northwestern administrators went to unusual lengths before Saturday’s basketball game against Michigan State to prevent fans from making any tasteless cracks about the Larry Nassar scandal.

They left handouts on every seat in the student section demanding that fans be respectful and threatening to remove anyone who isn’t.

Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor also employed by Michigan State, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison last month for sexually abusing hundreds of girls under his care. Some of his victims alleged that Michigan State did not properly investigate complaints about him and could have done more to end his reign of terror sooner.

Last month, following the resignations of Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis, basketball coach Tom Izzo and football coach Mark Dantonio were thrown into the maelstrom. An “Outside The Lines” story attempted to tie Michigan State’s handling of Nassar’s atrocities to how it has dealt with physical and sexual violence allegations against football and basketball players.

Northwestern isn’t the only Big Ten school to warn its fans before hosting Michigan State that remarks about Nassar or sexual assault were off limits. Indiana also left handouts on every seat in the lower bowl at Assembly Hall before a game against the Spartans earlier this month.

Credit both Indiana and Northwestern for being proactive in their efforts to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation. Lighthearted heckling is part of what makes college basketball fun, but sexual abuse isn’t something to joke about.

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Jeff Eisenberg is a college basketball writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!