MSU board to consider payout to Nassar victims
By ALICE YIN
LANSING — Michigan State’s board of trustees will address a plan Friday to pay a $500 million settlement to Larry Nassar’s victims, a meeting that comes amid calls for the school’s interim president to resign over recent comments about some of the women and girls the former sports doctor sexually assaulted.
Although the board appears to lack the votes to oust John Engler from his interim perch, the public meeting likely will be heavily attended by people who are fed up with Engler and want him gone. The primary focus of the meeting is the school’s budget, along with the settlement plan.
Some 150 of Nassar’s victims have joined a public crusade to force Engler out of the interim job. Last week, two university trustees also signaled they could call a vote during a board meeting Friday on whether to fire him.
Engler apologized Thursday for his April email exchange suggesting gymnast Rachael Denhollander probably received a “kickback” from her plaintiff’s attorney.
“I didn’t give it the consideration it warranted,” Engler said in a statement. “That was a big mistake. I was wrong. I apologize.”
Trustee board chairman Brian Breslin called Engler’s apology “appropriate and appreciated by a majority of the board.” One of the two trustees who turned on Engler, Dianne Byrum, said she is glad he apologized and hopes he learned from it. But Brian Mosallam, the first trustee to demand that Engler step down, said in a tweet Thursday that the apology “is too little too late.”
Denhollander said she appreciates Engler’s gesture but remains convinced he cannot lead the university forward.
“I am disappointed that it took eight days and came on the heels of intense political pressure,” she said on Thursday. “The most disturbing thing is that these comments are not isolated. They are a pattern that reveals a mindset toward assault survivors. And words don’t change that mindset.”
Denhollander said Engler, who did not address her by name in the statement, did not reach out personally to apologize.
When asked in a Thursday interview with The Associated Press why his apology took a week, Engler said he was traveling out of state and “wasn’t as focused on it.” He said when he returned and realized the reaction, he wanted to make his position clear in an apology.