AP Sources: Michigan State counsel gets $1.2M, even if fired

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University’s new general counsel, appointed in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, would make nearly $1.3 million over three years even if he were fired for cause before his contract ends, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The officials disclosed the provision on the condition of anonymity because the school had not announced the terms of Robert Young’s pending employment contract. It is expected to be considered by the board of trustees at a public meeting Friday.

Michigan State interim President John Engler named Young in May to replace acting general counsel Kristine Zayko, after Young helped to negotiate a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women and girls who alleged sexual abuse at the hands of former campus sports doctor Larry Nassar. Zayko announced her intent to retire and return to private practice.

Engler had appointed Zayko, the university’s former deputy general counsel, in March after long-time general counsel Bob Noto announced his retirement in February. A month before Noto’s announcement, a trustee had called for his resignation amid the Nassar fallout.

Noto walked away with six months of his $403,100 annual salary and a $234,110 payment for 151 unused vacation days, according to the Detroit Free Press. Zayko later came under criticism from two trustees for not telling the eight-member board about a 2014 investigation of Nassar and complaints in 2005 about William Strampel, the former dean of the school’s College of Osteopathic Medicine who is now facing criminal charges.

Young, whom Engler appointed to the state Supreme Court when he was the state’s Republican governor and who served as a justice for 18 years, most recently was picked by Engler to coordinate multiple investigations and lawsuits against Michigan State.

Under the proposed three-year contract — which has not been released publicly — Young would make $425,000 a year plus benefits. He would collect the entire $1.275 million if he were dismissed for cause, the officials said.

There is no such provision in the contract for Engler, who is facing pressure to resign after sending emails to another university official criticizing lawyers for Nassar’s sexual assault victims and suggesting the first woman to go public with her accusations was probably getting a “kickback” from her attorney. Engler could be terminated for cause, and the school would have no other obligation to him other than accrued salary.

A message seeking comment on Young’s pending contract was left with a university spokeswoman.

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Lage reported from Ann Arbor, Mich.

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