Michigan State University was awarded the 2019 "Golden Padlock" award Saturday at the annual conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors in Houston, Texas. The IRE gives the award to the most secretive publicly-funded agency in the country, and the crowd of reporters gave a standing ovation upon hearing of the winner.
The award was given in the wake of numerous scandals at the administrative level in connection with disgraced former MSU doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse. Former university president Lou Anna K. Simon resigned in January 2018 due to the fallout, and now faces charges of lying to peace officers about her foreknowledge of Nassar's abuse.
The state's attorney general has an open investigation into the university, accusing it of intentionally withholding and mishandling information about Nassar.
The university has repeatedly denied or heavily redacted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from various media outlets at the local and national level, including suing sports media giant ESPN in 2017 in response to a request for police records involving student athletes.
The recent announcement of Dr. Samuel Stanley as MSU's 21st president was met with some criticism due to the closed nature of the presidential search. An 18-person committee appointed by the Board of Trustees chose Stanley, the former president of Stony Brook University, and did not reveal his name or the names of any other finalists until the committee announced him as the new president.
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