LANSING, Mich (WLNS/WOOD) — Michigan State University would face an uphill battle it if it goes looking for taxpayer help or raises tuition to pay out the $500 million settlement with the survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse.
“It’s not our intent to do that,” MSU Interim President John Engler told political reporter Tim Skubick of WOOD TV8’s Lansing sister station WLNS when questioned about asking the Legislature for cash.
Pressed on where the money would come from, Engler joked, “Actually, what we’re hoping to use is find a leprechaun.”
“No, I mean, seriously, we have not made those decisions,” he continued. “I think that question was asked and answered twice.”
Engler, who was governor of Michigan for more than a decade, was at the state Capitol Thursday to explain the settlement with more than 300 women who say Nassar, a former sports doctor, sexually assaulted them. The agreement was announced Wednesday.
“They (the insurance companies) were part of the mediation at every step of the way. And we now would hope to be able to work out that contribution with them, which they are contractually obligated to provide,” Engler told WLNS.
MSU will also have to front some of the money, though Engler has not specified precisely how much. The university could also borrow money along with boosting tuition to cover its part of the costs.
>>App users: More of Engler’s conversation with WLNS
LAWMAKERS NOT INCLINED TO GIVE MSU MONEY
State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, was clear about his feelings if Engler comes asking for money.
“No, absolutely not,” he said. “You’re no longer governor, John. Go find your money from MSU, not from us, not from the taxpayers.”
Republican Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township told Engler to “look into your own funds first. Don’t go to student tuition.”
And if Engler still needs help, Kesto says he just needs to look deeper.
Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, has made his decision.
“I’m not inclined to use state dollars to help in the settlement,” he added.
On another front, as part of the survivor legal agreement, some have agreed to back off support of a proposal to give other survivors more time to file a lawsuit, which MSU opposes.
“Those who think the lawsuit dictates what the Republicans do, they are mistaken,” said survivor advocate Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, who’s backing that bill.
NASSAR SURVIVOR: ‘LEPRECHAUN’ COMMENT ‘A MOCKERY’
Morgan McCaul told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday that Michigan State continues to fail survivors of sexual assault like her. She said Enger’s “leprechaun” comment showed that.
“Making a mockery about the settlement, saying that you want a leprechaun, is just really immature and not what I would want frankly as the face of my university,” McCaul said in an interview over Skype.
She’ll attend the University of Michigan this fall for her sophomore year of college.
McCaul said that Engler’s comments reflect MSU’s lack of progress as the Nassar scandal has unfolded.
“They’ve shown time and time again that they don’t care about survivors,” said McCaul.
She spoke at Nassar’s sentencing and later helped organize an event calling for the entire MSU Board of Trustees to resign.
For McCaul, the board picked the wrong man to serve as interim president following the resignation of longtime President Lou Anna K. Simon.
“They brought this upon themselves when they allowed Nassar to go on treating patients for 20 years after reports were made, and this is what they brought upon themselves when they brought in a man like John Engler,” McCaul said.
“It’s hard to even react at this point because nothing even surprises me when it comes to him anymore,” she added.
Amanda Thomashow — who filed a complaint with the university in 2014, saying Nassar had molested her during an appointment — released the following about Engler’s comments:
“I find it very disheartening that he would joke about something so serious. I understand nervous laughter but he’s talking about how he’s going to pay damages to hundreds of girls and women that were sexually assaulted. His dismissive comments only further solidify my belief that he doesn’t care about survivors of sexual assault, and it makes me worry about how serious he is about actual change on campus. I can only hope that the next president of MSU has a little more tact and compassion.”
Asked Thursday evening to comment on Engler’s comments, MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam provided a statement to 24 Hour News 8 that read simply, “My focus right now is to collaborate with my fellow trustees and garner support for my proposal and reform.”
Mosallam has suggested a series of policy changes to how the university responds to claims of sexual assault.
Nassar will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography and state-level sexual assault charges.
**Correction: A previous version of this article stated McCaul attended MSU for her freshman year of college. That is not accurate. The text has been updated to remove the inaccurate statement.
This article is a modified version of a report that originally appeared on WLNS.com.