Dantonio, Hollis Address Downtown Coaches Club

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

BATH TOWNSHIP -- Michigan State University Athletic Director Mark Hollis made his annual appearance Wednesday at the Downtown Coaches Club's spring luncheon.

Only this time under unusual circumstances.

"As you know, I've been concerned about some of the financial practices that have been reported, and the resulting negative perception that it creates," Hollis told the crowd of hundreds of DCC members.

He informed the club that he'll be meeting with all 13 MSU booster clubs over the next couple of months, and could change the way they operate going forward.

This comes on the heels of a one-year suspension of the DCC from any charitable gaming events after a number of State of Michigan Lottery investigations found accounting errors and overpayment of raffle counters.

"We recognize the embarrassment this has brought to our club, for me personally and for everybody on the board," said board president Norm Harris, who took over as head in January.

Harris told News 10 on Wednesday that the DCC has created a new set of internal controls to ensure every member knows the rules and follows them.

But he was quick to point out he doesn't believe past members knowingly violated State Lottery statutes, saying there was nothing "malicious" about the violations.

Most of the members, after all, say they were unaware the violations were even taking place (indeed, unaware the club was already on probation during the most recent allegations), like former president Jill Witzenburg.

"I'm not sure that they even knew that anything was being done wrong," she told News 10 this past week during an exclusive interview.

While she agrees with the one-year suspension, Witzenburg argues the club never knowingly misused raffle proceeds and calls the State Lottery's ban of six members raffle committee, including herself, overly broad.

"I don't know that that was fair simply because they were on a committee," she said, noting she never knew about the club's alleged indiscretions. "Most of the committees don't even have regular meetings."

In the meantime, the club was happy to get some words of encouragement Wednesday from their head football coach, Mark Dantonio, who commiserated with the club's situation and said he's grateful for all it's done in its 60-plus years of existence.

"Everybody goes through tough times," Dantonio said. "That's the way it is."


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