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MSU Board of Trustees clash over comments related to sexual assault probe

Jun 21, 2017

Michigan State University trustees clashed today  over a trustee’s recent outing of a whistleblower in a sexual assault case involving the school’s football program.

MSU Trustee Mitch Lyons has come under fire for his comments on a Tuesday radio interview that former player Auston Robertson reported a January sexual assault incident in a meeting with Mark Dantonio.

At today’s board meeting, two trustees criticized Lyons for his remarks.

Trustee Brian Mosallam sat directly across from Lyons as he accused him of “enflaming the masses” with his comments and putting the “credibility of this institution and (the MSU Board of Trustees) at stake”. 

Sitting next to Lyons, Trustee Diane Byrum berated him, saying “I think it’s very disruptive, harmful to the university, to the administration and to every trustee on this board.”

Lyons started out conciliatory in his comments, saying he regrets making the statement. However, he quickly turned on his fellow trustees, pointing to statements they have made in the past. Though he stopped short of calling any particular trustee out for their past statements.

“While I may find it personally satisfying to do so, out of respect for those who live under your glass houses, I’m going to refrain from doing that,” said Lyons.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, as trustees quickly exited the board room, MSU President Lou Anna Simon tried to downplay the rift among the trustees.

“This is a family,” Simon told reporters, “And every once in the while, families have squabbles.  And every once in a while those squabbles become public.”

Longtime MSU Trustee Joel Ferguson had some advice to his fellow trustees: some things should be said only in private.

“Because we really weaken ourselves more than what any alleged statements someone’s made as we get into these kind of public discourses,” says Ferguson.