Michigan State president apologizes for ‘kickback’ comments


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University’s interim president apologized Thursday for emails in which he said a victim of former campus sports doctor Larry Nassar probably received a “kickback” from her plaintiff’s lawyer.

John Engler issued the written statement more than a week after media outlets reported on his email exchange with another university official. He said: “That was a big mistake. I was wrong. I apologize.”

Engler said when he started as president in February he never meant to have an adversarial relationship with some of Nassar’s victims. He said his speculation about Rachael Denhollander receiving kickbacks or referral fees “hurt her deeply,” and other survivors “suffered greatly.”

His fiercest critics are not accepting the apology.

“It is unfortunate that it took over a thousand signatures calling for his resignation and a two-day workshop with his employers for Mr. Engler to produce this apology,” Morgan McCaul, a Nassar victim who plans to speak Friday at the public Board of Trustees meeting, said in a written statement. “I remain firm in my belief that he is unfit to lead the University in this sensitive time. His actions speak louder than his words.”

Reclaim MSU, a grass-roots student group that has garnered 1,000 signatures in its petition calling for Engler’s ouster, also maintains “Engler has to go, now,” said spokeswoman Katie Paulot.

“One apology for the months of anger and disrespect he has shown our community means nothing,” Paulot, a rising sophomore, said in a statement.

Two university trustees have joined the calls for Engler to resign, but he said he’ll use his remaining time as interim president to implement reforms.

The majority of the trustees plan to stand by their embattled president.

“John’s apology for the comments contained in an April email that was released last week is appropriate and appreciated by a majority of the board,” said Brian Breslin, chair of the trustee board.

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