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MSU instructor on leave after students discover meth lab arrest

September 29, 2023
<p>Photo illustration by Jaden Beard. Photos courtesy of Michigan State University and Lafourche Parish Sheriff.</p>

Photo illustration by Jaden Beard. Photos courtesy of Michigan State University and Lafourche Parish Sheriff.

Michigan State University kinesiology instructor Brendan Doyle is on leave after students found news articles linking him to a bust of a Louisiana meth lab.

In March 2020, Lafourche Parish sheriff's deputies found a meth lab "under a bridge over a canal" with "smoke coming from a bucket," according to a press release from Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre.

The deputies soon connected Doyle — then a professor at Nicholls State University — to the lab and obtained arrest warrants, but discovered he had fled the state.

Months later, they arrested Doyle after he was seen packing a moving truck at his residence. He was charged with "creation or operation of a clandestine laboratory for the unlawful manufacture of a controlled dangerous substance," according to the release.

What happened next is somewhat unclear.

The local prosecutor who would have handled Doyle's case told The State News they have no records of Doyle being tried or sentenced.

Captain Brennan Matherne of the Lafourche Parish sheriff's office said in an email to The State News that "based on our jail records, I can see that he was found guilty and served a sentence and was released."

That sentence didn't appear on the criminal background check MSU conducted before hiring Doyle this fall, MSU deputy spokesperson Dan Olsen said.

But, students in Doyle's class quickly sleuthed out his past.

Kinesiology sophomore Mackenzie Allbee, who was in one of Doyle's classes, said students were suspicious of Doyle from the start.

On the first day of class, he had a "yelling outburst" telling "students to shut up" and said he would not answer questions about MSU's D2L assignment software because he "didn't know how to use it," Allbee said.

Then on the second day of class, Doyle had "another outburst," she said, yelling at an MSU IT employee who was five minutes late to set up a livestream of the class.

That was the last time Allbee saw Doyle. He canceled the next three classes last minute, saying he had "a stomach flu," according to emails obtained by The State News.

Those absences weren't new for Doyle. A student in one of Doyle's classes at Nicholls State, Isabelle Champagne, told their student newspaper that in the months before his arrest, Doyle would often send emails saying he was sick when cancelling classes or forgetting to post assignments.

Looking for help with the assignments Doyle had left for students in his absence, Allbee joined a GroupMe chat with other members of the class. When she opened it, she saw dozens of messages as students found press releases and news articles about the 2020 meth lab bust.

"Everyone was really shocked, but everyone also already knew he was a little crazy from the first two classes, he had those angry outbursts," Allbee said. "Everyone was in shock and just disappointed with the university."

It took students some time to find the stories about Doyle because he worked at MSU under a modified name, Allbee said.

While his name on the sheriff's records and Louisiana news stories is "Brendan Doyle," his MSU profile used "B. Michael Doyle." Allbee said students only eventually made the connection because Doyle's iClicker profile listed his full first name.

After finding the meth lab stories, students in the chat said they would be sharing what they found with the Department of Kinesiology leadership, Allbee said.

Before the next class, they received an email from Department of Kinesiology Academic Specialist Andrea Childress, who said class would be temporarily canceled "due to a health-related issue of the instructor," according to a copy of the email.

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Then the students received another email, this time from Kinesiology Department Chair Panteleimon Ekkekakis. He told students that he and other administrators were sent the news articles about the meth lab on Aug. 15, weeks before classes began, according to a copy of the email.

Ekkekakis contacted The State News on Sept. 29, saying that his previous email to students contained a typo. He sent a corrected email to students, saying that he and other administrators learned about the meth lab on Sept. 15. 

In the first email, he said classes would resume the next week with a new instructor.

"I want to apologize for this disruption and the highly atypical start to your fall semester," Ekkekakis said in the email.

Olsen, the MSU spokesperson, said Doyle is now on leave. He declined to say whether the leave is paid, citing "legal and privacy concerns."

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