MSU board of trustees expect John Engler to resign after comments

The Michigan State University board of trustees expects interim president John Engler to resign for comments suggesting some survivors of Larry Nassar's abuse were "enjoying" the "spotlight" after having been sexually abused, sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.

Sources told ESPN that Engler's resignation letter is expected prior to Thursday morning's scheduled meeting. The Detroit Free Press, citing sources, was the first to report the board of trustees expects Engler to resign.

"This university can no longer move forward with [Engler] at the helm," trustee Brian Mosallam told ESPN.

Chairwoman Dianne Byrum told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she had a "frank conversation" with Engler, and that "he has a decision to make" because the board is poised to name a new interim leader at Thursday's meeting.

A spokeswoman for the university declined to comment.

Engler, a former governor of Michigan, has angered survivors, their supporters and others in the MSU community on several occasions since taking over as interim president nearly a year ago.

Former president Lou Anna Simon resigned at the conclusion of a hearing in which Nassar -- a former doctor at Michigan State and national medical coordinator for USA Gymnastics -- was sentenced to up to 175 years in state prison for sexually abusing young women and girls.

At the time of his appointment, Engler said he intended to work to move the university forward and respect the women who had been abused by Nassar by treating them as if they were his own daughters.

Earlier this week, Engler told the editorial board of the Detroit News that the school was making progress toward moving past the scandal and that some of the outspoken survivors advocating for change at Michigan State and elsewhere were enjoying the attention that garnered.

"There are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven't been in the spotlight," Engler said, according to The Detroit News. "In some ways they have been able to deal with this better than the ones who've been in the spotlight who are still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition. And it's ending. It's almost done."

Those comments sparked outrage from advocates, observers and survivors themselves.

"You mean, like having to change the day I grocery shop so my three kids don't see a photo of their mom demonstrating what was done to her body?" said Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual assault. "Tell me more about how enjoyable this spotlight is."

Engler previously apologized at a university board meeting for making other insensitive remarks about survivors. He apologized for the school's choice to publicly share medical information about a student who sued the university for how it handled a sexual assault complaint not related to Nassar. He denied claims that he asked one Nassar survivor, 19-year-old Kaylee Lorincz, to provide a dollar figure that would satisfy her civil lawsuit against the university in a meeting without her attorney present. He also accused Denhollander of receiving financial kickbacks as part of the civil lawsuit in an email exchange with other university administrators. He later apologized for those comments.

In December, Engler closed a $10 million fund set aside by the school to help Nassar survivors pay mental healthcare bills. Engler claimed the fund, which still had more than $8 million of unclaimed money, was intended to be "a bridge" for survivors until they started receiving payments from the $500 million civil settlement that the university reached with Nassar's survivors.

There is no record of the university claiming the fund as a temporary bridge prior to Engler's assertion.

When protestors asked Engler and the trustees to reinstate the fund during a board meeting in December, speakers had to demand Engler make eye contact with them. He later told reporters he was looking through notes about the progress the university had made in reforming its sexual assault policies while the speakers were asking him to reopen the fund.

Michigan State's trustees voted earlier this month to establish a new assistance fund, the details of which have not yet been announced.

Michigan State posted notice of its board meeting at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday. The school must post notice of all public meetings at least 18 hours before they are scheduled to begin. Thursday's meeting will be open to the public and is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.