MSU under investigation by FAA for use of state planes for recruiting

Submitted by Sinsemillaplease on July 1st, 2013 at 11:10 AM

As the title says, MSU is under investigation for their use of planes operated by the state of Michigan for recruting trips by Dantonio and Izzo. The investigation began after the Lansing State Journal ran a series on the planes and how they are utilized. Over a five year period, Dantonio and Izzo combined for 102 flights on state-operated flights. As you likely assumed, The University of Michigan can handle it's own recruiting travel arrangements and is not under investigation.



July 1st, 2013 at 11:20 AM ^

I don't really understand what the big deal is. Sounds like one of those stupid (Edit: FAA, not NCAA) things. As long as MSU is paying to use the planes just like anyone else would, then no one should have a problem with Izzo or Dantonio using them for a few recruiting trips.



July 1st, 2013 at 11:28 AM ^

what MSU's Athletic Deparement paid to use the planes owned by the State of Michigan. I mean, if it was at a "fair market value" price, then no harm, no foul, but if the rate was below market, then the State was getting ripped off by MSU.

Keep in mind that the article does not state that MSU underpaid, but that's the only reason I can think of as to why this would be a problem.


July 1st, 2013 at 1:41 PM ^

If anything it looks like the Athletic Department is the one that always pays, and they book a lot more questionable flights with others. One of those where the LSJ put all that money into an investigation, really found nothing, so printed it anyway.  It's not like we have never seen that happen around here before....

I'll hammer them or chortle when they deserve it, but this is more of a yawn, silly media.


July 1st, 2013 at 11:17 AM ^

I'm confused; why is this an issue?

MSU's AD reimbursed the state for the trips out of the AD budget.  This is similar to what happens in Netjets or the planes in Delta's private jet lease/rental program, you pay per flight.


July 1st, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

Aircraft get registered for their intended use by the FAA under the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR, not to be confused with "Federal Acquisition Regulations", which is something else). You'll often hear/read about "Part 135", etc., which come from the FAR.

Parts 119, 121, 125 and 135 govern the usage restrictions of aircraft by private and commercial operators. If the State of Michigan was leasing its aircraft in violation of the FAR,  there could be some serious civil penalties imposed. That doesn't mean MSU will necessarily be on the hook. 

Maize.Blue Wagner

July 1st, 2013 at 11:23 AM ^

So they're using our tax dollars to recruit, and they still can't do very well at it? I would hope they could at least be pulling in some better recruits. 

Edit: Yeah after actually reading the article, I would agree, this probably isn't an issue. 


July 1st, 2013 at 11:18 AM ^

...that MDOT is under investigation by the FAA for its practices that include leasing the planes to the MSU AD. It's hard to see that MSU is doing anything wrong here, unless they are getting an unusually low lease cost for these flights. 

Frankly, I have a hard time understanding why the FAA would care about this. Insight by someone with knowledge of applicable FAA regulations would be greatly appreciated.

Monocle Smile

July 1st, 2013 at 11:25 AM ^

but I've done some stuff with high-altitude balloons, and the FAA tends to get mad when you don't keep them in the loop regardless of the technical legality.

In other words, this investigation could be taking place solely because these specific deals or practices weren't explicitly cleared with the FAA even if other MDOT leased flights to MSU were.


July 1st, 2013 at 11:24 AM ^

but seriously, in college athletics

  • Reimburse state for use of state owned plane -> SERIOUS BUSINESS
  • Pay people to influence high schoolers to go to Oregon -> nothing to see here

I know this is the FAA vs the NCAA, but college programs get punished for all the dumb things and all the real things get by


July 1st, 2013 at 11:39 AM ^

Actually, let me amend my previous post.

The more I think about this, the more I realize that we must not lose sight of what's really important here.  And that is the fact that Michigan State deserves to be punished for no other reason than being Michigan State.  If the NCAA, or the State of Michigan, or President Obama is unwilling to do what is neccisary for the betterment of society, then I have no problem with the FAA taking their crack at it.  Let the FAA reign down their rightous and fiery judgement upon Michigan State University.


July 1st, 2013 at 11:37 PM ^

Purdue has its own airport and at least one plane, but it would seem the football and basketball coaches aren't using it.  Even the president of the university has cut back, which is costing students in the in the aviation program some serious coin:

When I was a TA at Purdue in the 1980s, the students I had from aviation were regularly missing class to fly President Beering around.


July 1st, 2013 at 11:48 AM ^

To me it raises an additional issue, and that is, what kind of priority is given for these recruiting trips.  As long as the state isn't maintaining surplus planes that aren't essential, as long as the true cost is being paid by the MSU AD, and as long as the coaches are at or near the bottom of the list of who gets dibs on the planes, I have no problem with this.  


July 1st, 2013 at 11:49 AM ^

that this is one circumstance where the "death penalty" could certainly be justified.  It all depends on exactly what was witnessed on those flights, when the AD learned that the flights actually existed, and if he reported these trips to campus police or simply punted it up the chain of command.



July 1st, 2013 at 11:55 AM ^

The issue is the usage of the planes.  The planes are supposed to be used for the purpose of saving state officials time and the tax payers money since an air shuttle to the UP is cheaper than driving if you fill the plane up.

MSU Atheltics and such are supposed to have access to the planes moreso when they're not in use as a way of helping MDOT generate some kind of revenue off the equipment they purchased.  However there are allegations that MSU was using the aircraft as their own private aircraft pool and in turn costing the taxpayers money.  As an example, MSU reserves the plane for a recruiting trip and thus some state official has to drive (which costs more than the flight and of course the state eats the costs since the official expense reports his driving costs).  Plus you also have to factor in the time cost.  Having some high level policy maker from Treasury sitting in traffic on I-96 and accomplishing nothing is potentially much more expensive than having the WR coach of a college do the same.  Part of this of course would be MDOT's fault as they should have only rented out the planes when they were available, but it may be the case some MDOT official happens to have a really awesome season ticket package to Spartan Stadium or something of that nature.  

NOLA Wolverine

July 1st, 2013 at 12:01 PM ^

"The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the state of Michigan’s practice of leasing its passenger planes to officials at Michigan State University."

Per story referenced in ESPN's "story." Your title is intentionally misleading. 


July 1st, 2013 at 12:02 PM ^

I am not sure what difference it makes to the FAA if Michigan leases its planes or at what price they lease them.  The legislator may not be happy if it costs more than they charge, assuming that all the right safety paper work was filed for  these flights, all the proper maintenance was completed as required why the heck would the FAA be involved?  Did they not properly screen the passangers?  If the FAA is worried about how Michigan State recruits, the answer is poorly by the way,  they must have nothing else to worry about. 


July 1st, 2013 at 12:53 PM ^

Any entity that provides air transportation and in turn charges for it must be properly certificated by the FAA. MDOT does not hold such certification. I don't think the rub is with MSU but MDOT in a possible violation of the rules. There's a big difference between leasing and chartering.