Monday, June 03, 2013

Analysis: Michigan State coaches use state-owned planes for recruiting trips


1:56 PM, June 3, 2013

By Kristen M. Daum

Lansing State Journal

Recruiting Michigan State’s future basketball and football stars often puts head coaches Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio on the road — and one of their travel options are state-owned planes.

As employees of one of the state’s 15 four-year universities, Izzo and Dantonio have access to the four passenger planes managed by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

A Lansing State Journal analysis of MDOT’s aircraft logs for the past five years show that the two MSU coaches are among the most frequent fliers on the state planes. Izzo has traveled at least 55 times in the five-year period analyzed by the State Journal — or nearly once a month. Dantonio has used the state planes slightly less, with at least 47 trips in five years.

MSU’s athletic department pays the state for use of the planes and “no state funds nor tuition dollars are used to pay for the charter,” MSU associate athletic director John Lewandowski said.

“Sometimes trips are scheduled on short notice or a larger group needs to travel together,” Lewandowski said. “The coaches must determine the most cost-effective way to travel as well as weigh the benefit of time saved by traveling in this manner versus a commercial flight.”

While all 15 four-year universities in Michigan have access to the planes, MSU uses them almost exclusively among the higher education community. Part of that could be attributed to the fact that most of the passenger planes are based at Lansing’s Capital Region International Airport.

MSU employees and guests used the state planes at least 150 times during the five-year period reviewed by the State Journal. By comparison, in that same time, Michigan Tech employees used the planes five times, and one Michigan employee used a plane last fall.

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