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Shannon Miller says 'more change' needed in USA Gymnastics after Larry Nassar

by Erik Ortiz /  / Updated 

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While three top executives of USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for the sport, resigned this week amid the fallout from a sex abuse scandal, not everyone thinks cleaning house is enough to fix a culture of misconduct and silence.

Shannon Miller, the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history, said Wednesday on "Today" that "more change needs to be made."

"Board members stepping down, three stepping down, two outside board members being added on, so a total of five in changeover — that's not enough," Miller, who was part of a committee to seek new leadership, told NBC News' Kate Snow in an exclusive interview. "It's a good start, it's something, but ... significantly more has to happen."

Miller, who led the "Magnificent Seven" team that captured gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, offered her own advice to the embattled organization. She said educating everyone involved in the sport about abuse is paramount because it brings awareness, and "you shine the light on it and you keep that light shining on it."

USA Gymnastics quietly fired its doctor, Larry Nassar, in the summer of 2015 after learning of allegations made against him by female gymnasts. Nassar, 54, was also the team doctor at Michigan State University.

Related: 'Army of women' fights gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar with words

The school ousted him in September 2016 after a newspaper reported on an accuser's civil lawsuit that claimed abuse from 1994 to 2000. Then a flood followed against Nassar of charges of sexual abuse, a federal indictment for child pornography and gymnast after gymnast coming forward in lawsuits or on television to accuse him of sexual misconduct under the guise of treatment.

More than 150 accusers confronted Nassar in a Michigan court before he was sentenced Wednesday from between 40 to 175 years in prison.

His accusers have included some of the sport's biggest stars: Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman.

While USA Gymnastics has seen its top leaders depart, Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon — a critic of the child sex abuse that ensnared Penn State University's football program — remains under pressure to step down after some students and state lawmakers said she turned a blind eye to the scandal involving Nassar.

University Trustee Joel Ferguson said this week that he doesn't want Simon to resign, but had to apologize Tuesday after saying Michigan State has more to it than "just this Nassar thing."

Miller, 40, said she was never abused by Nassar when she was younger.

Among her suggestions for changing gymnastics, she said, would be employing a rotation of trainers for when gymnasts need to be medically evaluated and that none of the trainers are given personal phone numbers for minors. She added that it's "common sense" to not have a male trainer in the examination room alone with a female of any age.

"I have really tried to be very sensitive to the importance of the victims' voices being heard. I am so in awe of their courage," Miller said.

"It's their voices that I take with me," she added, "and it's the outrage that I feel that I keep with me and I try to channel into a relentless pursuit of agenda-focused change in this sport."

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