Michigan State University Is Botching Its Reputation-Rehab (The Atlantic, March 19, 2018)

Submitted by GoBlueinEugene on March 20th, 2018 at 11:57 AM
East Lansing, Mich.—The chairman of Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees said he had to get something off his chest.
It was the board’s first regularly scheduled meeting following the criminal-sentencing hearings of the former sports-medicine doctor Larry Nassar. And Brian Breslin, facing an overwhelming vote of no confidence from the university’s faculty, had already indicated he would not step down. But then he struck a different tone. Breslin’s “conscience would bother [him],” he said, if he didn’t speak his mind.
The crowd of hundreds gathered there—already quivering with anger over the Nassar debacle—seemed to perk up in anticipation of some further statement on the scandal.
Instead, Breslin touted the $550 million rare-isotope accelerator that the Department of Energy placed at MSU in 2008; the board had just received a progress report on the facility, which has been an economic driver in the state. The accelerator is a signature achievement of the longtime MSU president Lou Anna Simon, who resigned in January amid criticisms of her handling of the Nassar scandal. Breslin recalled that the federal government had planned to locate the project in several different places but that Simon persuaded lawmakers to put it all in East Lansing. “So at some personal risk I take in saying this, whatever else her legacy may be, there would not be a Michigan State University without the leadership and organizational skills of Lou Anna Simon,” he said.
The chairman had more to say, but boos and hisses drowned him out. “What was he thinking?” one trustee said to me later. “We are in an existential crisis here. Now is not the time for the Lou Anna Simon reputation rehabilitation tour.”
LINK to the full article



March 20th, 2018 at 3:53 PM ^

I don't live in Michigan anymore - but I used to.  I don't particularly like MSU's sports teams, but it was always obvious to me that a strong Michigan State University was undoubtedly a benefit to the state as a whole.  It's core mission (like that of every land grant) is to provide a quality and affordable education to the state's citizens.  It generally does that.

I know it's figurative language, but "burning MSU to the ground" doesn't benefit the state of Michigan.

Nobody Likes a…

March 20th, 2018 at 12:06 PM ^

Imagine a historic sexual predator being allowed on your campus for years and that your first instinct is to save your own ass. The idea that these pricks think they can weather this storm and somehow hold on to their positions of power after this is an absolutely fatal dose of narcissism and self-denial. 


March 20th, 2018 at 12:08 PM ^

That said, I've not seen a ton of recent mentions of it in the press. We are a very short term memory nation. 

It might not be long before people move on. 

I've already had MSU defenders at work 'Well, it wasn't really her job...' 'A head coach is planning for the game, not worried about stuff like that, they rely on assistants...'


I hate this. I hope I'm never so tone deaf that I feel UM can do no wrong. 


March 20th, 2018 at 1:09 PM ^

That's exactly the problem.  The school and trustees are quite correct (note: not right, but correct) in doing what they do.  Why?  Because they only have to cover their own asses long enough for the media spotlight to move on.  Which it will.  It always does.  And lots of people have adopted the "haters gonna hate" mentality, which says that your detractors will always be your detractors and therefore you only need to please your supporters, who will become your apologists in very short order.


March 20th, 2018 at 2:10 PM ^

Did the media spotlight move on for Joe Paterno?. I guess Mark Dantonio has more power at msu than Joe Pa at psu. I highly doubt it. He better win at least nine games this year. It just isn't moving at the speed everyone wants. Both enablers are under the gun and feeling the pressure. Izzo and Dantonio will be gone soon enough.

Also why is it so hard for people to understand the way the rapists were handled and how it is being covered up?. It seems real simple to me. THERE FUCKIN EVIL!!!!!.

Also " go tell your mom what you did". Allthough that is a classic. Try to get into the mindset of Dantonio on that one. Mom coach told me to talk to you about a girl I raped. What the fuck!!. Enough said I give up.


March 22nd, 2018 at 12:43 PM ^

Everybody keeps asking "how can they be so tone deaf!!!"  They know who their supporters are.  If a video of Dantonio joining in on one of the sexual assaults surfaces, some sparty fans would still support him as long as he beats UM.  That may sound absurd but...  Penn State.  They also know that the president (notice I didn't use the "E" word..) could come right out and say "screw these ambulance chasers.  These girls have no Spartan pride!" and people would nod along, especially people bound to him through political idealogy.

They know who their detractors are, they know that ain't gonna change, and they know that people will get sick of the story and move on.  It's already happening on this blog.  The bad guys are winning.  $1000 per hour law firms don't employ morons.

Depressing.  BTW, is Izzo still only talking about basketball?  We should hear answers soon right?


March 20th, 2018 at 12:09 PM ^

Read this yesterday. Coverups are the name of the game, here. They're just gonna keep doing this until a bigger scandal comes along and they don't look so bad, anymore.

What msu is doing is worse than Penn State but the general public will never see it that way because of the way it's being handled. Disgusting.


March 20th, 2018 at 12:13 PM ^

“So at some personal risk I take in saying this, whatever else her legacy may be, there would not be a Michigan State University without the leadership and organizational skills of Lou Anna Simon,” he said.

Sometimes people in leadership have a greatly inflated sense of their importance in the grand scheme of things. Good leaders make a difference surely, but the idea that MSU would be drastically different without LAS (and I believe Breslin implies without himself and the rest of the board too) is nonsense and a brief glimpse into how grand the board at MSU really thinks they are


March 20th, 2018 at 12:18 PM ^

Problem is that they are all inbred. They hire from within, promote from within, and are overseen by trustees some of whom have never left the state of Michigan. No perspective whatsoever.


March 20th, 2018 at 2:25 PM ^

So know there going to use thee old chromosomes defense. Plus one for you because I am using that in court. Sorry I beat the shit out of the guy with the green and white jacket on your honor but it's my chromosomes judge. They say I am inbred. LOL.

It happens with red and grey also judge. Do I have to many that are the same. I know it is something like that.Those colors make me see red because of my chromosomes judge.

Indy Pete - Go Blue

March 20th, 2018 at 12:20 PM ^

It is simply astonishing how moronic these leaders at MSU are. I am grateful for the sports justice that they were sent packing by a terrible Syracuse team in Detroit... a hint of justice is sweet. MSU has a long ways to go before justice is served in a real life sense. Getting rid of another idiot like Breslin would be a good place to start.


March 20th, 2018 at 12:28 PM ^

Oh look, a legacy kid with no independent accomplishments is in a position of power due to someone else's name being on a fucking stadium.

I am an MSU alum (law school, admittedly), and I am beyond embarrassed for how they have handled this entire scandal. And there are good people at that school, people who truly care about sexual assault victims and fixing the systemic problems that exist both there and in the world. But fucking Tom Izzo, John Engler, Lou Ann Simon, and their fucknut board of trustees suck all the damn oxygen out of the room whenever they can and just spout utter bullshit for days.

I truly hope this stains every one of their legacies forever, so that the second line of their obituaries is that they somehow came across as tone-deaf and offensive as maybe the worst sexual predator this country has ever produced.


March 20th, 2018 at 3:00 PM ^

I will give you a plus one, but you forgot Dantonio and he has way more rapes under his belt than Izzo. Dantonio gives scholarships to known sexual predators (Robertson) and just plain bad seeds that have no business attending any university.

I understand that some football players are going to get into trouble and no coach can see that coming. But my god Dantoinio tripled down on sexual predators. How many sexual assaults are on the books and not even including the dozens more not reported. It is the same as Baylor, like they gave them a license to rape the whole campus. I actually believe msu football and basketball players feel if women won't give it up, they have the right to just take it.

My feeling about that asshole is he brings the wrong kids there, unleashes them upon the student body and does nothing about it unless there is no way they can get them out of it. Just like the three gangbangers last year. Corley and the other two pieces of shit. Coaching staff told them to destroy evidence. That asshole from Detroit tried to get them out of it. SMSB asshole...forgot his name. Have to wonder what Dantonio knew about that.

I'm sorry, but if you have to many rapists and criminals on your team you just can't afford to suspend them, well anyone can see what and who is the problem is along side the pukes who should not be getting a free ride scholarship to play football at any university. I personally feel Dantonio's position is he was brought there to win football games and that is all he is concerned with. If the kid is a starter and not incarcerated yet he will play. He does not have time for what is right or wrong....aka Saban, Meyer, Smart. Asshole at texas a&m now...The fsu qb...raper. Clemson puke. List goes on and on but Dantonio makes them guy's look like choir boy's doesn't he?. Maybe I am off base here?. Am I?. I don't think so.


March 20th, 2018 at 12:28 PM ^

Sounds like Breslin tihnks they should put up a statue to honor Simon saving the university


Personally I think they should put the board into the particle accelerator and launch them out of East Lansing


March 20th, 2018 at 12:31 PM ^

Engler’s recent comments that were mixed in with blaming others (ESPN) in the widespread sexual abuse crisis.

I thought he said MSU would focus on the issue after “we” cut down the nets in San Antonio. He must have said “they” as in anybody other than MSU.

Mpfnfu Ford

March 20th, 2018 at 12:39 PM ^

Of when you allow and encourage people to love institutions more than the human beings who make the institution. Simon was great for the institution because of this or that, and her sin was in trying to protect the institution above individual people. This is not a large sin if you think institutions matter more than human beings, and it's the kind of insidious logic that leads to such evil. 

It must be rooted out at all costs. So many administrators have such little care for the individual people who make up the faculty and students of their colleges.

Section 1.8

March 20th, 2018 at 1:04 PM ^

There is a fundamental issue that readers of even a well-written essay like this one in the Atlantic don't seem to be getting...

On the one hand, there are people screaming that MSU students, and State of Michigan taxpayers, and I therefore suppose the MSU general fund, must not be forced to pay the claims of victims in these cases.

(I hasten to add; a whole lot of Larry Nassar's vicitms seem to be unconnected to MSU and Nassar's MSU position.  He was a USA Gymnastics team doctor, etc.)

So that obviously leaves MSU's insurance coverage in play, to pay for the losses.  I presume that makes people happy; MSU bought the coverage, paid for it, and now let's use it.

And that is fine.

But don't expect an insurer, working with an insurance contract for coverage, to not act like an insurance company, with lots and lots of tort lawyers coming at it for money with six and seven zeroes attached.

As I have said before, if people want MSU to be more like an idealized university, or some kind of in loco parentis benevolent society, MSU would have to be treated like that in return.  And that is assuredly not going to happen.  MSU is being sued, and as a defendant -- especially a defendant with insurance coverage -- it is going to act just like a defendant and absolutley no one should be surpised.

Speaking of surprise, I was surprised to see this Atlantic essay hail Penn State as having happily paid out for the claimants.  Penn State wanted insurance coverage for them, and aggressively went toe-to-toe in court with its inusurers.

Those same insurers that will now be calculating the risk at other places -- like, uh, the University of Michigan -- and calculating the future risk for claims, and things like a 30-year statute of limitations... And figuring out the premiums.  Which need to be paid.  Out of budgets.  From funding sources like tuition.



March 20th, 2018 at 1:16 PM ^

that MSU attornies actually asked a federal judge to dismiss lawsuits because as a state institution it is immune from liability is, to me, the most shocking part of the school's lame response thus far. "tone deaf" doesn't begin to describe these morons. May they all rot in hell.

Section 1.8

March 20th, 2018 at 1:31 PM ^

MSU actually could say, "We feel so bad.  We feel bad for the girls (and some boys!?!) who were harmed by Larry Nassar.  And we want to make it right with them.  We want to pay them whatever they think they might need to recover, and we want to do it right away..."

MSU could say that.  But that is not what their insurance contracts say.

It would be legal malpractice, for MSU's attorneys retained (probably under a reservation of rights) by their insurance carriers to fail to make all of the reasonable defenses, and some of these defenses are fully valid in my view.

If MSU or fans of MSU or others with strong interests in MSU want to just open the MSU checkbook, MSU can do that.  Just don't expect insurers to open their checkbooks to do that check-writing so that everybody can feel better about MSU.



March 20th, 2018 at 2:38 PM ^

You're right, this issue has their attention. It was only five minutes of the board meeting immediately following, but it does have their attention more fully now.


Does it appear that the people in charge are going to change their approach? Not likely.

Will they publicly apologize and focus on the needs of the victims? No.

Do we have any evidence to point to that shows they are reviewing Dantonio's and Izzo's actions pertaining to handling of sexual assault? No (they might be, but it doesn't fit with their other statements).