Dec 14, 2022 - News

Judge: MSU must reveal documents tied to Tucker's contract

Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker implores his team to keep chopping

MSU football coach Mel Tucker keeps chopping on the sideline against Indiana. Photo: Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire, via Getty Images

Michigan State improperly shielded details of its deals with boosters who helped fund football coach Mel Tucker's $95 million contract, a state judge ruled Monday.

  • The university must hand over the documents — with home addresses and estate-planning information blacked out — to the Detroit Free Press next week.

Why it matters: The ruling was a victory for government transparency and a reminder to powerful institutions that the state's Freedom of Information Act requires disclosure of public records.

Catch up quick: Catch up quick: After news spread that boosters Mat Ishbia and Steve St. Andre helped pay for Tucker's historic 10-year contract last year, the Free Press filed a FOIA request to obtain the gift agreements.

  • MSU denied the request, arguing it fell under the FOIA's privacy exemption.
  • The Free Press then sued the university to release the records.

Between the lines: Between the lines: Judge Brock Swartzle, who heard oral arguments in October, was not convinced that the agreements are entirely private because they contain personal and financial information.

  • Nor was he swayed by MSU's reasoning that the donors expected the agreements to remain private.

What they're saying: "MSU cannot avoid FOIA by promising greater confidentiality than it can lawfully provide as a public institution," Swartzle's ruling reads.

The intrigue: The documents are expected to reveal the amounts Ishbia and St. Andre donated and how they wanted the money spent.


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