(CBS Detroit) – Michigan State University Interim President John Engler appeared with CBS 62 Senior Editor/Host Carol Cain and answered questions as part of the Detroit Free Press’ inaugural “Breakfast Club” forum.
Engler, former governor of Michigan, talked for the first time publicly before an audience about his first three months on the job. The sold-out event was held at the Townsend Hotel.
CBS 62 is a sponsor in the new breakfast series which will air as “Michigan Matters” shows. Cain, who hosts the Emmy-winning TV show and is a columnist at the Free Press, is moderating the forums. More Breakfast Club events are planned.
Engler was appointed by MSU’s board of trustees and assumed the job on Feb 5. Previous President Lou Anna Simon resigned over fallout of the Dr. Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal.
Nassar is serving a life sentence for sexually abusing young female athletes at MSU. The university is facing over 300 lawsuits from survivors.
Engler also talked about MSU coaches Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio, who has also come under the glare of the spotlight as well.
“I think in Dantonio and Izzo you’ve got two coaches with great personal integrity who run very clean programs,” Engler said.
His answer came after being asked about the ESPN report detailing the handling of multiple sexual assault claims involving basketball and football players by the two coaches.
Engler also talked about Izzo who some suggest is on the radar of Tom Gores, who owns the Detroit Pistons, as he looks for a new head coach. He said Izzo is staying put.
Engler said he is looking forward to leaving the MSU job and moving to Texas where he is building a new house once the lawsuits are resolved.
“The board told me I had free rein to go after this,” said Engler.
Peter Bhatia, editor and vice president of Detroit Free Press, also asked audience questions of Engler.
When asked how running a university compares to being governor, Engler said: “One of the things that surprised me was the lack of communication. It was easier to communicate with 50,000 state employees than 5,000 MSU employees.”
Watch MICHIGAN MATTERS Sunday at 11:30 on CBS 62.