Showing our Spartan pride


The past few days have been exciting ones for the Spartan community.

It’s been a tremendous gift for me during these first hundred days as MSU’s president to share in the successes of our men’s and women’s basketball teams and to cheer both of them on in the NCAA Final Four.

That’s something that’s only happened six times in tournament history for any university.

We’ve seen some outstanding team and individual performances against some of the best teams in the country.

While there can be only one championship team at the end of each season, our Spartan men’s basketball team is made up of winners—individuals who have played with class, who have represented us so well, and in whom we have great pride. I know you all join me in applauding their accomplishments.

I also know that you share in my appreciation of Coach Tom Izzo for the values and leadership he brings to the team. Earlier today, the Basketball Hall of Fame and Chip Hilton Sports named him the 2005 recipient of the Coach Clair Bee Award, as the Division I basketball coach who has made the most significant positive contribution to the sport during the preceding year.

Here in Indianapolis, the women’s basketball team continues their breathtaking, record-setting year. Their game Sunday night against the Tennessee Volunteers was a nail-biter right to the end. I sat in front of Governor Jennifer Granholm and behind MSU Athletic Director Ron Mason at the RCA Dome, and everyone was thrilled by the tenacity and the character that the Spartan women demonstrated during their courageous comeback to win that game in the final minutes. Their ability to respond under that kind of pressure and in the glare of the national spotlight says a lot about the character of the team and the quality of the coaching they’ve received.

Coach “P” really deserves the recognition she’s received as the Associated Press Coach of the Year.

One of the great things about being part of the Spartan family is that we can celebrate the accomplishments of both the men’s and women’s teams without comparing one to the other, with a strong sense of pride in both. They are tremendous assets—on the court, in the community and in the classroom—and they’ve done an extraordinary job of representing what’s right about college athletics and the spirit of a great land-grant university.

Finally, I want to address the events that took place Saturday night following the men’s game. As many of you know, I flew home immediately after the game so I could be here for the 8 a.m. press conference Sunday morning—a bit of a sleep deprivation challenge, as someone termed it.

It’s important to note that the vast majority of the 44,700 MSU students acted responsibly and with Spartan pride. Unfortunately, a very small number of our students joined others from out of town in conduct and behavior that showed disdain for other students, for our Spartan team and our university. We are determined that the actions of those few do not damage the reputation of our great university. We’ve come a long way in terms of how the community celebrates after games, but it seems we still have a way to go to encourage safe, responsible celebrations and to deal with crowd control issues.

We’ve heard from students, parents and alumni regarding Saturday night. And I’ve shared the concerns sent to me with MSU Vice President Fred Poston, whom I’ve asked to take the lead on behalf of the university to look carefully at all of the information we can gather about Saturday night, including videotape and the firsthand accounts that are coming in, and to work closely with the City of East Lansing to review the evening’s events.

In addition, as prescribed by MSU policy, Vice President for Student Affairs Lee June will carefully review any questionable actions of our students and will respond appropriately to deal with students who are found to have tarnished the reputation of the university.

So as we move forward, please join me in wishing the Spartan women the best of luck when they battle Baylor for the national championship title on Tuesday. The nation’s eyes will be on us, both on and off the court. I look forward to celebrating that victory with you tomorrow night, but keep in mind that our reputations—individually and as a community—will be reflected in the way we celebrate.


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