Suspended Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said in a statement Tuesday that he was not surprised the school intends to fire him with cause after he allegedly sexually harassed an anti-sexual assault activist who was contracted to work with the football team.
The school said Monday that it had informed Tucker of its intention to fire him with causes and that he had seven calendar days to respond and present reasons to the school why he shouldn’t be fired.
Brenda Tracy filed a Title IX complaint against Tucker with the school in December and said the football coach made unwanted advances and even masturbated while on the phone with her without her consent earlier that year. Tucker has contended that their relationship was consensual and reportedly told Michigan State investigators that he was having “phone sex” with Tracy during the call.
Tucker said in his statement that “other motives are at play” and that he doesn’t believe “MSU plans to fire me because I admitted to an entirely consensual, private relationship with another adult who gave one presentation at MSU, at my behest, over two years ago.” He also said Tracy “manufactured false allegations” against him.
In its letter to Tucker, Michigan State said that it has multiple grounds to terminate the coach’s contract because Tracy was working as a vendor for the school. Tucker’s 10-year, $95 million contract included behavior clauses and Michigan State said Tucker’s behavior “demonstrates conduct which constitutes moral turpitude” and was conduct that “brought public disrespect, contempt or ridicule upon the university.”
Title IX hearing scheduled for October
The hearing for Tracy’s complaint against Tucker is scheduled for the first week of October during Michigan State’s bye week. Tucker said that Michigan State has “cut off any semblance of interest in the truth or due process by terminating me weeks before the hearing.” According to a USA Today report, the hearing was initially scheduled for August but pushed back six weeks.
“In [athletic director Alan Haller]’s press conference on September 10, he suggested MSU was suspending me as an ‘interim measure and ‘while the investigation continues,’” Tucker said in his statement. “About one week later, with no new information, MSU moved to terminate me — sanctimoniously and illogically claiming this action has no impact on the ongoing investigation. The investigation is designed to determine if I had violated policy. I did not. But regardless, basic fairness requires that process play out before any sanction(s) are determined.”
Tucker also said in his statement that he learned that Michigan State was going to fire him “just days after I emailed Alan Haller requesting a medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for a serious health condition.”
The Spartans lost by 34 points to Washington on Saturday in their first game after Tucker’s suspension. Michigan State went 20-14 in Tucker’s time as head coach, but 11 of those wins came during the 2021 season. The Spartans were 5-7 in 2022.