Interim president John Engler addresses university concerns
In his second week as interim president, John Engler released a statement on Feb. 13 to address matters and concerns that have been raised around the MSU community.
"Everyone knows the Nassar case is an international story," Engler said in the press release. "As he beings serving his sentence in a federal prison in Arizona, we are all still struggling to comprehend the extent of the damage he inflicted on so many girls and young women, and on their families."
Engler said the main concern is figuring out how this could have happened and what must be done to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
Multiple high-level departments are conducting program reviews, including the U.S. Department of Education conducting a Clery program review, the U.S. Senate requesting information, and the U.S. House of Representatives with two inquires underway.
The NCAA is requesting information from MSU, and the Michigan House of Representatives is seeking production of documents. The Attorney General's Office is also conducting an investigation at MSU's request.
"Add to these an accreditation agency inquiry and an ongoing blizzard of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and the volume of compliance deadlines Michigan State University faces is daunting," Engler said. "Last week alone, we turned over data equivalent to some 45,000 pages of documents, emails, and other materials to William Forsyth, the independent special counsel who is heading the investigation for the Attorney General's Office."
Engler said MSU is committed to cooperating with all official requests, and is grateful for the cooperation the faculty and staff have given the General Counsel's office and the law firms assisting the university.
"While the investigations are ongoing, activity in lawsuits representing well over 100 survivors continues to move forward," Engler said. "I'm following the progress closely as we work to return to mediation and, I fervently hope, a just resolution that helps the survivors bring some closure to this horrific chapter in their lives. Michigan State, too, needs to heal and to emerge a stronger institution, one where safety, respect, and civility are hallmarks."
According to The University Policy on Relationship Violence & Sexual Misconduct, "Michigan State University is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment for all students, faculty, and staff that is fair, human, and responsible--an environment that supports career and educational advancement on the basis job and academic performance...Relationship violence, stalking, and sexual misconduct are not tolerated at Michigan State University."
"We can do better with our campus relationship climate, and I'll continue reaching out to people and groups in the days ahead for advice and suggestions that can move us toward the kind of campus we all want to be associated with," Engler said.
On Jan. 26 ESPN released an Outside the Lines report detailing multiple allegations against the university for not publicizing the fact that 16 football players were accused of sexual assault and violence.
"Finally, I viewed with great concern a recent ESPN report that gathered considerable national attention in no small part because it showed a promotional graphic of our head football and men's basketball coaches with Larry Nassar," Engler said. "This was a sensationalized package of reporting that contained allegations and insinuations that we are now reviewing. The coaches were asked to refrain from comment while the reports were examined. That has been a burden that must be lifted. I hope MSU can soon respond in full and affirm the integrity and probity that has been the hallmark of these two respected coaches."
Director of Communications for ESPN David Scott sent The State News an email in response to Engler's letter.
"We stand by our reporting," Scott said.
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 6:07 p.m on Feb. 13.