MSU Spending Big For Post-Nassar PR

‘That’s a lot of money on PR’ says veteran professor

In the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal, Michigan State University’s president and athletic director stepped down.

Interim President John Engler has hired the Truscott Rossman communications firm to help with media relations in what is being called a crisis situation.

John Truscott, who was Engler’s press secretary when Engler was governor of Michigan, said he will make $325 an hour, while others with the firm will earn a lower hourly rate for their involvement.

Truscott said he typically charges as much as $437 an hour when he works in a crisis situation, which he said was typical for the industry. He said the rates of other firms hired in the past few months were much higher than what he is charging.

"It’s an honor to serve my alma mater through these difficult times. I really believe the leadership John Engler is exhibiting will help get things on the right track," Truscott said in an email. "I’m assisting with communications and media. MSU has a good comms staff. We’re looking at the questions such as are they mobilized properly? Are they meeting the needs of the university and media? Most firms would charge crisis rates for a project like this, but Truscott Rossman is only charging its standard fees."

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MSU's Kent Cassella holds the title of associate vice president for communications and senior public relations strategist. In that role, Cassella earned $195,765 in the 2016-17 school year.

“That's a lot of money on PR, it seems to me,” said Richard Vedder, a professor of economics at Ohio University. “Particularly when what they are doing is trying to cover their butts.”

Vedder also serves on the Board of Scholars for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Editor's note: This story was updated with an additional comment from John Truscott.

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