Michigan State University Moves to Terminate Head Football Coach Mel Tucker Amidst Sexual Harassment Allegations

Michigan, September 19, 2023 — Michigan State University has made the decision to dismiss head football coach Mel Tucker following allegations of sexual harassment, as announced by the university on Monday.

Earlier this month, Tucker was suspended without pay after a report by USA Today indicated he was under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct. The university's notice stipulates a seven-day period for Tucker to present arguments against his termination.

Alan Haller, the school's vice president and director of athletics, stated in a news release, "I, with the support of administration and board, have provided Mel Tucker with written notice of intent to terminate his contract for cause. This notification process is required as part of his existing contract. The notice provides Tucker with seven calendar days to respond and present reasons to me and the interim president as to why he should not be terminated for cause."

The inquiry into Tucker's conduct was initiated in December, as previously stated by Haller during a news conference earlier this month.

The university has released a copy of the notice sent to Tucker, along with his employment agreement signed in 2021, which they assert he violated and admitted to violating during the investigation. The notice outlines that Tucker "made unwelcome sexual advances towards" an activist contracted by the university to provide sexual misconduct education to the school's football team. The document further alleges Tucker "masturbated on a phone call without her consent."

"The unprofessional and unethical behavior is particularly egregious given that the Vendor at issue was contracted by the University for the sole purpose of educating student-athletes on, and preventing instances of, inappropriate sexual conduct," the document states.

According to the notice, Tucker acknowledged making comments about the activist's body, engaging in flirtatious comments, and making "sexually explicit comments" about himself and her during a phone call.

The coach's actions are deemed a "material breach" of his duties, demonstrate "conduct which constitutes moral turpitude," and have brought "public disrespect, contempt, or ridicule upon the University," all of which serve as grounds for his termination.

Brenda Tracy, identified by USA Today as the activist in question, is a rape survivor and advocate running Set the Expectation, an organization dedicated to educating athletes about sexual violence. Tracy reported her call with Tucker to the university's Title IX office.

Tucker, in a statement last week, refuted Tracy's allegations as "completely false" and criticized the investigation for lacking fairness and impartiality. He asserted that the sexual phone call was mutual.

Michigan State University is currently conducting an investigation in accordance with its "Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct" policy and Title IX.

Tucker, a seasoned coach with a career spanning college and NFL coaching for over two decades, assumed the role of Michigan State's head coach in 2020. In his second season, the team achieved a remarkable 11-2 record, leading to a significant 10-year, $95 million contract, making him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. However, the team's performance dipped the following year, concluding with a disappointing 5-7 record, including substantial losses to rivals Michigan and Ohio State.