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Statements on passing of George Perles (Jan. 8, 2020)

Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., Board of Trustees Chair Dianne Byrum and Trustee Brian Mosallam issued statements today on the passing of former trustee and longtime Spartan George Perles.

President Stanley
“My heart is with the entire Perles family. Former Trustee George Perles dedicated most of his life to service – service to our country and our university. From the classroom to the playing field, and athletic director to trustee, Mr. Perles embodied what it means to be a Spartan. The university is grateful for his decades of faithful service.”

Trustee Byrum
“This is a sad day for our Spartan family. George’s commitment to service and his passion for all things MSU are how I will remember him. Whether it was contributing to the success of our football program as head coach, guiding our athletics department to provide the very best for student-athletes or bringing his passion for this university – his alma mater – to the board table, George’s impact on this university will be long-lasting. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sally and the rest of the Perles family during this difficult time.”

Trustee Mosallam
“George Perles promised my late mother he would take care of her son and make him a man by the time he left Michigan State University. He gave her son a kick in the rear when he needed it and a hug and advice when he sought it. 

“I will forever cherish the memories I have of Coach Perles both as a player and as a colleague on the MSU Board of Trustees. But I will mostly cherish the memories of our annual Christmas Eve family dinner tradition together in Detroit while he ran the Motor City Bowl. My late mother loved to cook for coach, and he loved her back.

“George touched so many lives. He helped so many people. He was fiercely loyal and never forgot where he came from.

“I am forever grateful for the impact he has had on my life. My broken heart goes out to Sally, John, Pat and the Perles family. We lost a giant today. A man who loved Michigan State University more than anyone could ever imagine.

“Forever he will be my coach. May he rest in peace.”

A 1960 graduate of Michigan State, Perles returned to his alma mater in 1982 as head football coach. He served as the university’s athletic director from 1990 to 1992 and was later elected to the MSU Board of Trustees in 2007 and again in 2014.

For more information about Perles’s history and legacy at MSU, and statements from the Athletics Department, visit