EAST LANSING (WWJ) – Michigan State University is on the hot seat over the use of state-owned airplanes for athletic recruiting trips.

Officials at the Michigan Department of Transportation say they have not violated any federal regulations by allowing coaches at MSU to use the state’s passenger planes for athletic recruiting trips.

The Federal Aviation Administration began investigating the use of Michigan’s taxpayer-funded planes after the Lansing State Journal published a series on how the aircrafts were used and who rides in them.

The target of the FAA investigation is still unclear. However, a letter to the FAA from MDOT transport and safety manager Rick Carlson suggests two concerns — that the MSU Athletics Department isn’t eligible to use the state planes because it is a self-sustaining division of the university, and that MDOT erred by not obtaining a certificate to provide services for hire outside state government, the Lansing State Journal reported.

Carlson said MDOT has for years provided air transportation to state agencies and that all Michigan universities are included in that group.

“MDOT does not hold out its services to the public,” Carlson wrote. “State colleges and universities and their discretionary unbudgeted fund accounts (are) an arm of state government. We, therefore, conclude that state colleges and universities are eligible to use state aircraft on college and university business.”

Click HERE to read MDOT’s response to the FAA (.pdf format)


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