Records: Ishbia, St. Andre paying $24 million toward Tucker's salary – Detroit Free Press

Mat Ishbia and Steve St. Andre will donate a combined $24 million toward the salary of Mel Tucker over the next decade, according to records released after a Detroit Free Press lawsuit. The donations do not specify Tucker’s name, but St. Andre’s gift agreement says it should be used for items including the “recruitment and retention of coaches for the MSU Men’s Intercollegiate Football Team.”
MSU school spokesman Dan Olson said the gift agreements don’t explicitly call for the money to go to Tucker, but can be used by the athletic director at his discretion. However, Ishbia said earlier this month in a television interview his $14 million was for Tucker’s salary.
That leaves the school on the hook for the other $71 million of Tucker’s 10-year, $95 million salary.
More:Judge orders MSU to turn over Ishbia, St. Andre gift agreements to Free Press
While the gift agreement between Ishbia and MSU has no outs, the gift agreement between St. Andre and MSU says he can, after the first $6 million payment, pull the remainder of the gift at “any time and for any reason.”
The agreements are legally binding contracts.
Citing Michigan’s open records laws, the Free Press asked for the agreements between MSU and Ishbia and St. Andre, including for donations made to help fund football coach Mel Tucker’s contract. MSU said making the records public would violate the privacy of the two donors. The Free Press then sued MSU over the denial.
“It’s important that these records be public, not so much for the details, but to make sure that the relationship between donors and our universities in Michigan are there for everyone to see,” Free Press Editor and Vice President Peter Bhatia said. “The business of public institutions should be transparent and that’s why we sued.”
MSU said they fought to keep the records sealed because of their concerns about privacy.
“The university respects the tenets of openness and transparency in government the Michigan Freedom of Information Act seeks to further. As a public body, we also have an obligation and responsibility to protect individuals’ right to privacy while balancing the openness that furthers ethical governance,” MSU said in a statement. “We deeply value and thank our generous donors for their contributions which continue to support the success of the institution and our Spartans – students, faculty and staff.”
Earlier this month, Court of Claims Judge Brock Swartzle ordered the records released.
“MSU has not pointed this Court to a single authority applying Michigan law that supports its contention that the amounts of the gifts, the payment schedules, or the donors’ expressed desires for how the university should use the funds constitute private or confidential information,” he wrote in his opinion, filed Monday. “Both Ishbia and St. Andre made non-anonymous donations to MSU (a public entity), and their subjective belief that the amount of those gifts would remain confidential does not establish that the agreements contain private or confidential information.”
Olson told the Free Press that MSU would evaluate any future open records requests for gift agreements on a case-by-case basis and was still reviewing the judge’s order to see if it applied to more than the Ishbia and St. Andre gifts.
The gift agreements released cover two Ishbia gifts and one St. Andre gift.
The largest Ishbia agreement was signed on Feb. 6 and was for $32 million. Here are the details for that gift:
The other Ishbia agreement was made on Nov. 19, 2021, five days before MSU announced Tucker’s new $95 million contract. The agreement says, “Nothing in this agreement, however, shall be construed to affect MSU’s control over any employment decision related to any coach or staff member or the use of the Gift.”
St. Andre’s gift was also signed on Nov. 19, 2021, and has the same language about no rights to sway the department over the hire and fire of coaches.
Ishbia, a walk-on member of the Spartans’ 2000 national championship basketball team and a 2003 graduate of MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business, is chairman, president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage. He also is in the process of buying the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
St. Andre is the founder of Shift Digital, a marketing firm that creates websites and other digital tools for auto dealerships, automotive manufacturers and other clients. The MSU marketing graduate previously worked for eight years as president and CEO of Ford Direct and was part of the startup team that created
Contact David Jesse: 313-222-8851 or Follow him on Twitter: @reporterdavidj.


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