EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — George Perles resigned as a member of Michigan State University’s governing board after nearly 12 years, the school said Thursday, ending decades of service as a football player, coach, athletic director and trustee.
Perles, 84, noted his age and struggle with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive nervous system disorder, in a letter to Brian Breslin, chairman of the board of trustees. He often participated in public meetings by telephone.
“The ramifications of my health issues continue to grow,” Perles wrote Wednesday. “I have been blessed with a wife who has sacrificed much to tend to my needs and to provide constant care. At this juncture, I feel that Sally deserves some respite. We need to make our life smaller as we age and consider our quality of life.”
Perles had been a Michigan State football coach and athletic director before winning statewide election as a trustee in 2006. A Democrat, he was re-elected to an eight-year term in 2014.
Breslin, a Republican, suggested Republican Gov. Rick Snyder would name a replacement and not leave it to the next governor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, who takes office on Jan. 1.
Indeed, Snyder spokesman Ari Adler said the governor’s staff would make recommendations “as soon as possible.”
Perles played football at Michigan State in the 1950s. After a successful run as an assistant coach with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, he returned to East Lansing as head coach before the 1983 season. The 1987 Spartans won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl. Perles was fired in 1994.
A few months ago, a woman alleged that he covered up a rape allegation against sports doctor Larry Nassar when Perles was athletic director in 1992. Pat Perles called it a “fabrication” and insisted his father had never met the woman, who was a 17-year-old field hockey player.
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