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Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon's resignation Wednesday night kicked in a number of special benefits she'll receive, including lifetime free tickets to MSU football games and a 12-month paid research leave if she returns to the faculty.
According to her contract, Simon is allowed to resign her position by giving a 60-day notice to the board.
In those 60 days, she's to continue to function as the school's president and "provide reasonable assistance" in the transition to the next president.
Simon's resignation comes amid fallout from the Larry Nassar case.
Nassar became a team doctor for Michigan State University in 1997. Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison as part of a plea deal on seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving more than 156 girls and women for more than two decades.
It's still unclear who will take over for Simon. The board has a closed-door workshop scheduled for Friday.
Simon's contract has a number of details about what she gets if she resigns. She can choose to return to the faculty, at which point she will get a 12-month research leave at her current salary of $750,000. She then gets her current salary for the next year and 75% of her salary for the following two years. She also gets office space and secretarial support.
She also gets the title of "president emeritus."
But Simon's contract is unique.
"In the 200+ presidential contracts we've reviewed, this is the only contract that provides for the president to receive 100% of their last presidential base salary for the first year that they return to the faculty," James Finkelstein, a professor emeritus at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and the leading researcher of presidential pay, said in an email.
He reviewed Simon's contract at the request of the Detroit Free Press.
"This means that Dr. Simon will be paid at least $750,000 for her first year returning to the faculty from her research leave. After that, she will be paid 75% of that base salary, or at least $562,500 per year. Dr. Simon's field is higher education. She received her Ph.D. in education from MSU in 1974.
"So based on this contract, it would appear that Dr. Simon will be paid more than twice the amount of the most highly paid faculty member in the College of Education. In addition, she will be paid more than the most highly paid faculty member in the entire university, C. Konrad Gelbke who makes $433,441. He is one of the world's leading physicists."
The contract also spells out a number of lifetime perks Simon and her husband will receive:
Parking passes for on-campus parking.
Two free tickets to home football games for the Spartan Club suites.
Two free tickets to women's basketball games.
The option to buy up to four men's basketball tickets in the same location she currently has seats.
Reduced-price tickets for bowl games and postseason play for football, men's and women's basketball and ice hockey.
Parking pass for all home sporting and cultural events.
"Other than the granting of emeritus status, we rarely see such benefits in any contracts," Finkelstein said. "What is extremely unusual about these benefits is that so many of these are related to sporting events.
"In fact, this is the only contract that we've seen with these specific types of benefits."
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