Engler to meet with MSU athletics in ‘coming days’

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Newly appointed Michigan State University president John Engler faced plenty of questions Wednesday morning, including the status of the athletic department.

Engler, the former Michigan governor, was appointed by the MSU Board of Trustees to take over on an interim basis after former president Lou Anna K. Simon resigned in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual-absuse investigation.

Most of the questions and forms of protest after Wednesday’s board meeting centered on that case, but Engler also was asked about the state of the athletic department after a recent ESPN report called into question its handling of sexual-assault cases within the football and men’s basketball programs.

“I don’t know because I haven’t talked to anybody over at the athletic department, I haven’t talked to anybody in the legal team here and I haven’t talked to anybody in the Title IX office,” Engler said. “On all of these investigations, I have yet to have the first conversation with the people who are involved with them, handling them or responding to them.

“But, I will be doing that in the coming days.”

Nassar was sentenced last week to up to 175 years in prison for assaulting young women, some of those Michigan State students while he was employed by the university. Attorney General Bill Schuette announced last week an investigation into the university’s handling of the Nassar case, while the NCAA also announced it was looking into the athletic department’s handling of the case.

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Athletic director Mark Hollis, who announced Friday that he was retiring, spent his last day in the office Wednesday as Michigan State puts together its response to the NCAA’s letter of inquiry. Who takes over for Hollis still hasn’t been made official. Some reports say it will be, on an interim basis, deputy athletics director Greg Ianni, who oversees the Spartans’ athletic facilities and works toward the development of long-range plans for improving those sites.

However, there has been no word from Michigan State and two sources told The News late Tuesday that nothing had been finalized.

Ianni came to Michigan State in 1993 after serving as associate director of athletics at Ohio University. At Ohio University, he was responsible for the athletic department facilities, financial management and daily operation of the 17-sport, Division I program.

The native of Dexter, Mich., graduated from Michigan State in 1975 with a bachelor of arts, and earned a master’s degree in sports administration at Ohio University in 1978. Ianni played baseball at MSU in 1972-73, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors in 1973. His son, Anthony, also played basketball at Michigan State.

In addition to his facilities duties, Ianni administers event management for all sports and serves as the sport administrator for daily operations for football and men’s basketball. He also has handled oversight of the day-to-day operations of the department when Hollis was on the road.