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Detroit Free Press Sues Michigan State Over Mel Tucker Contract Information

The Detroit Free Press announced Tuesday it has sued Michigan State for not handing over gift agreements with two large donors.

The suit claims Michigan State didn’t grant the Free Press's requests to access the school’s agreements with donors Mat Ishbia and Steve St. Andre. The denial reportedly marked a state open records law violation.

Jesse writes that Ishbia and St. Andre have donated “millions” to the school, which includes contributions to football coach Mel Tucker’s 10-year, $95 million extension. According to the lawsuit, every time universities get a donation, they sign contracts that lay out “conditions and binding promises made by both parties, donor and public institution.”

The Free Press is arguing that these contracts are “open to public discourse” and other universities in the state of Michigan have turned over their agreements.

Michigan State President Samuel Stanley denied an appeal for the request.

“It is the University's position that the individuals' privacy interests outweigh the Free Press' stated interest in disclosure,” Stanley said, via the Detroit Free Press.

In response, Free Press legal counsel Herschel Fink claims that Michigan State cannot legally deny this request.

“Contracts with public bodies are the essence of public records,” Fink said. “The public has a right to know what promises MSU has made in exchange for these gifts and MSU and these alumni have publicly celebrated their generosity. There is nothing ‘private’ about these agreements.”

The Free Press said Michigan State declined to comment on this lawsuit.

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