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Time to cut ties with rapist

Several dozen colleges have kept ties to an influential volleyball coach long after he was publicly accused of sexually abusing and raping underage girls who trained with him in the 1980s.

The coach's accusers, who have been pressing Michigan State University for months to sever all ties with Rick Butler, say all schools have a moral obligation to end their relationships with him.

The campaign against Butler comes as Michigan State deals with questions about whether it could have done more to thwart Dr. Larry Nassar from abusing scores of young gymnasts over 20 years. In addition, a former dean was recently charged with failing to protect patients from Nassar and sexually harassing female students.

Schools across the nation have engaged with Butler for years by attending his recruiting showcases or playing at his suburban Chicago facilities, which for decades have been a major pipeline for top volleyball recruits and coaches.

The annual recruiting events have long been viewed as can't-miss gatherings by volleyball recruiters. Even after media reports re-examining the sexual abuse allegations, coaches from nearly 50 schools nationwide signed up to attend, including from Oregon State, Colorado, Bucknell and Western Kentucky.

Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin are among the schools that have played exhibitions at Butler's facilities, which include his 12-court Great Lakes Center. It and his flagship company, Sports Performance Volleyball, are in Aurora, west of Chicago.

Whether there's an ethical issue in recruiting players from facilities run by someone accused of serious abuse or whether refusing to recruit those players would unfairly penalize young athletes "is an excellent and complex philosophical question," Hirsch said Wednesday. It would take a few conversations and more than a few hours to answer the question, he said.



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