One-on-One with former MSU AD Mark Hollis Part 3

“I’ve never withheld information from any of the authorities”
One-on-one interview with Mark Hollis on not withholding information
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 6:44 PM EDT
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DETROIT, Mich. (WILX) - Former Michigan State University Athletic Director Mark Hollis says he doesn’t recall ever meeting Larry Nassar. The disgraced doctor is spending the rest of his life behind bars for abusing hundreds of young athletes.

The scandal had many pointing fingers at MSU’s athletic department. But as News 10 has reported, the university’s medical school was responsible for the medical care of student athletes.

News Ten’s Ann Emmerich sat down with Hollis Monday in downtown Detroit where he now lives and works.

Anyone who knows Mark Hollis knows when he takes on a challenge, he’s all in. He’s been called the “Idea man” of college athletics, putting contests where they’d never been before. Among them, the 2001 Cold War rivalry hockey game in Spartan Stadium, the 2003 Basketbowl at Ford Field, and the 2011 Carrier Classic college basketball game onboard the deck of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.

During Hollis’ 10 year reign as AD, Tom Izzo’s basketball team made it to four final fours, and Mark Dantonio’s team earned a victory in the coveted Rose Bowl. Hollis was at the helm for it all, leading his alma mater to some of the highest highs in college sports. Now, he’s a Detroiter, living in the heart of the city, where he’s all in. He says the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed him time to reflect on the decision that took him to the Motor City.

Mark Hollis: “It was the right time for me to retire. You know, I wish it had come along with a couple more high fives, and not the sadness that went across so many people, at that time. But I have no regrets. Do I have regrets about while I was on the job? I think you always have regrets about decisions and choices and I think everybody makes mistakes, but none based on integrity. If you read social media, you’re going to reach a point where eventually you’re not a very happy person, and it hit me. I went through that, you were looking for hope and all you were getting were accusations and people telling you how awful you are. And I’m not. I’m not an awful person and I understand why the university couldn’t or wouldn’t make any statements, about Athletics and that, that Athletics didn’t know certain things, that statement was never made. But they knew.”

Ann Emmerich : “Let’s talk about that for a moment, because the ESPN report that aired, just hours after, was it after you resigned. Did you watch that? A lot of people thought it was unfair the way it was presented.”

Mark Hollis: “I’ve not watched it, so it would be difficult for me to respond to it. I read some things, some excerpts that were in it. I’ve never ever withheld information from any of the authorities on any situation so when folks want to make those claims, especially those that weren’t involved in conversations, it’s painful, but you know the truth, and I know the truth. And that’s what I have to rest on.”

Ann Emmerich: “Dan Gilbert wasted no time snatching you up, really, to come down here and work for him. Talk about the adjustment from college athletics to working for Dan Gilbert.”

Mark Hollis: " Yeah, he’s an incredible mind. In many ways, I see parallels between the way he runs business and the way I ran college athletics. Not just at Michigan State, but with the NCAA and The Big Ten. He is very innovative. It’s a situation where money follows, it doesn’t lead. He wants to do the right thing. He wants to do the right thing for Detroit, and he’s invested heavily to make that happen and you’re seeing others join him. When you walk through the campus down here...Campus Martius, Eastern Market and all of the Bedrock facilities that are down here, you very much feel like you’re in a university setting. It’s vibrant. There’s energy.”

Ann Emmerich: “There is no doubt you are going to go down in history for Spartan Athletics, leading the athletic department, the football team, the basketball team, what, four final fours, all of the events that I talked about earlier. The Basketbowl, the Cold War...which was your idea. What do you want Spartans to remember about you?”

Mark Hollis: “What I would want Spartans to remember is the five of us. The five in my family that gave so much. That gave our time, gave our integrity, gave our passion. My kids didn’t get a dad to play catch with as much as some kids did. My wife didn’t always have that loving husband around because of the demands of the job. With that said, I’m proud of who we hired, I’m proud of bringing on Mark Dantonio who arguably is one of the greatest, if not the greatest coach in Michigan State Football history. But for one situation that, in so many ways, other than being the leader of the athletic department, to have something happen that was out of, frankly, out of my control, and not be able to respond to it.”

“I am so damn proud of everything that happened at Michigan State while I was there. I was proud of everything at Michigan State before I was there. And I hope we can find a way to be proud of Michigan State in the future.”

On that note, Hollis says he’d like to see the university be transparent and release the more than 6,000 emails related to the Nassar scandal. He says he keeps in touch with friends in the MSU Athletic Department, but has not had any conversations with the current AD Bill Beekman.

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