errence Lanni will step down from the board of directors when he officially retires from the company Sunday, MGM Mirage said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Lanni abruptly announced his retirement as CEO earlier this month but said he planned to remain on the board of directors. But questions arose after the University of Southern California disclosed Lanni had not received a master’s degree in business, as he had long claimed.
MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said Lanni did not mention the degree flap when he told company executives of his decision to leave the board, saying only that he and his wife wanted to devote more time to their philanthropic work.
When asked whether questions about Lanni’s academic credentials played into the decision, Feldman said: "I would think that a man who’s been continuously licensed for 32 years and whose contributions to the industry are of such high regard, that I can’t imagine anyone would have taken seriously an inquiry about this," he said.
Lanni’s corporate biography has long held that he earned a master’s degree in business from USC. A university spokesman said Lanni took classes toward the degree from 1965 to 1967, but never graduated. If regulators found Lanni submitted false information on his license applications, he could have been denied a spot on the board.
It was not clear whether Lanni claimed the degree as part of gambling license applications submitted to regulators where MGM Mirage operates casinos. Regulators in Nevada and Mississippi said the contents of Lanni’s application were private. An Illinois regulator said Lanni was not required by that state to have a gambling license.
Eric Bush, administrative manager for the Michigan Gaming Control Board, told The Associated Press that the state’s gambling license application does not require applicants to list their educational background, but regulators were investigating that matter anyway.
Lanni, who received us$ 9.6 million in compensation in 2007, led MGM Mirage from a one-casino operation to its current position as the largest casino-operator on the Las Vegas Strip. MGM Mirage owns and operates 17 properties in Nevada, Mississippi and Michigan, and has 50 % investments in four other properties.