Michigan State spent more than $53,000 in legal fees to respond to NCAA
By Matt Wenzel
May 29, 2018
|Larry Nassar appears for his sentencing at Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018.|
Photo by Cory Morse
Michigan State has spent more than $53,000 in legal fees to defend its claim that no NCAA violations occurred from its handling of former sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar.
The university paid a total of $53,250.54 to the law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King for work in February and March to craft a response to the NCAA, according to documents obtained by MLive via a Freedom of Information Act request.
Mike Glazier, an attorney at Bond, Schoeneck & King, sent Michigan State a letter on Feb. 7 confirming the law firm would represent the university in responding to a Jan. 23 letter from the NCAA seeking information about potential violations related to Nassar. It noted his rate is $475 an hour and he will serve as the primary attorney but, if agreed upon, will assign other work to an attorney whose rate is lower to save money.
From Feb. 1 through March 30, Michigan State was billed for a total of 127 hours of work by the firm. Glazier's initials were marked for 75.5 hours while another attorney logged 51.5 hours at an average rate of $295 per hour. There was also a total of $2,195.54 billed in other expenses, including flights, a rental car and travel meals.
Although the hours charged per day per attorney were detailed, the descriptions for each log noting work were redacted in the documents obtained by MLive.
The January letter sent from NCAA executive vice president of regulatory affairs Oliver Luck to then-Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis cited an article of the NCAA constitution and a bylaw regarding health and safety and protecting the well-being of student-athletes. It pointed out NCAA members are required to self-report potential violations and Michigan State had yet to do so regarding Nassar.
Nassar pleaded guilty to assaulting hundreds of women and girls under the guise of medical treatment and will spend the rest of his life in prison for sexual assault and federal child pornography charges. Earlier this month, Michigan State reached a $500 million global settlement with Nassar claimants.
In response to the NCAA's January request for information, Bond, Schoeneck & King, in a March 22 letter to the NCAA, outlined the reasons why Michigan State doesn't believe it committed any violations related to Nassar.
"I trust you will see that the University is in no way attempting to sidestep the issues facing it, and that if the University had any reason to believe the criminal conduct of Nassar also implicated NCAA rules violations, the University would accept responsibility in that area as well," the letter stated. "However, after a thorough and analytical examination of NCAA legislation, and an application of the known facts associated with the Nassar matter to NCAA legislation, the University finds no NCAA rules violations."
The three-page letter pointed out that at least 25 of Nassar's victims were Michigan State student-athletes during their contact with him between January 1997 and August 2016.
The letter also addressed NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199, regarding the commitment to student-athlete well-being and said it "serves as a guide for Division I members and is not subject to enforcement procedures."
It's unclear if Michigan State's findings will satisfy the NCAA. In response to an email sent by MLive seeking comment earlier this month, NCAA director of public and media relations Stacey Osburn said, "We do not have anything further to share at this time."
The same week the NCAA sent a letter to Michigan State in January, both Hollis and university president Lou Anna K. Simon stepped down. Former Michigan governor John Engler was appointed the university's interim president on Jan. 31 and on Feb. 5 he named vice president Bill Beekman interim athletic director.
Beekman agreed to a brief interview with MLive in February following a Board of Trustees meeting and said the university was preparing a response to the NCAA but has declined subsequent requests for comment. When asked earlier this month about the university's response to the NCAA, Engler said "What we reported is what we believe to be the case."