Perles steps down from MSU board for health reasons

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A long-time face of Michigan State University, George Perles, has sent in his letter of resignation to the MSU Board of Trustees.

The letter was dated Nov. 28 and is effective immediately, according to MSU Board of Trustees Chairman Brian Breslin.

“I have known George for many years and his dedication to the university is beyond compare,” Breslin said. “He cares deeply about the people here and has worked selflessly over the years — whether that was as a player, coach, athletic director or board member — to push MSU to its greatest potential.”

Vice-chair of the Board and fellow trustee, Joel Ferguson, said that Perles will be remembered for his toughness on the field of competition and for his love of all things Spartan.

“George and I go way back, and his dedication to our great institution has endured,” Ferguson said. “He has given more than 60 years to our beloved institution. The entire board wishes nothing but the best for George, Sally and their family.”

The governor's office had to be notified of the resignation and Snyder will make an appointment to the board in the near future.

Snyder's office told News 10 that they will be looking at potential candidates.

“Gov. Snyder appreciates George Perles’ years of service, both to the U.S. Army and then at Michigan State University," said Ari B. Adler, director of communications for the governor. "Our appointments division will begin reviewing potential candidates for a replacement and provide the governor with recommendations as soon as possible.”

Ferguson, like Perles, is a Democrat, but he isn't worried about the Republican governor picking a replacement.

"This has only been a media event, calling us a partisan board. We're not the legislature. Everyone who's been on the board gets elected through a party, but they are Spartans, so we've never had party caucuses on our board," he said.

You can read the full letter of resignation below.

In it, Perles says the decision was not easy and cited medical reasons for stepping down. He has Parkinson's disease and says in the letter that he and wife Sally "need to make our life smaller as we age and consider our quality of life."

He said that Michigan State has been a home for him and his family for almost 65 years. He lived on campus in married housing with his wife and two children. He eventually returned to MSU to coach the Spartans and even work for a short time as the athletic director.

He called MSU the "finest in the country," and said his family has bled green and white for most of their lives.

"It's time to step back and allow the next generation to carry the MSU torch," he said.

Perles, 84, lives in East Lansing now but there was a time when he was in Pittsburgh working as a coach for the Steelers from 1972-1982. He took over as the head coach at Michigan State in 1983 and remained as head coach until 1994. In 1990 he became the Athletic Director until 1992. He was elected to the MSU board in 2006 and was a trustee for 12 years.

Perles has recently been accused of covering up sexual abuse by former MSU doctor Larry Nassar when he was the athletic director at the university.

In September, George Perles hired an attorney to represent him in a lawsuit filed by a former MSU field hockey player. The player says she told Perles that Nassar had drugged and assaulted her during a medical exam when she was 17, and got her pregnant, but that she had had a miscarriage.

Perles has not commented on the claims but his son, Pat Perles, told ESPN that the allegations were a fabrication.

His lawyer, Patrick Hickey, is also representing former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages and athletic trainer Destiny Teachnor-Hauk in civil lawsuits related to Larry Nassar.