Head football coach Mel Tucker was notified in writing by Michigan State University that the university had “intent to terminate” his employment for reason, claiming “a body of undisputed evidence of misconduct that warrants termination.”
Detailed in a five-page letter from the university’s athletic director Alan Haller, the warning from Michigan State outlines what the school views as “unprofessional and unethical behavior.”
After sexual harassment claims surfaced in media outlets over the weekend, Tucker has been placed on administrative leave without pay. Tucker was suspended after the specific charges surfaced in media stories, and an independent investigator hired by the school has been looking into the claims since January.
A timeline of the Allegation made by Brenda Tracy
Brenda Tracy, a well-known lecturer on the topic of sexual assault, accused Tucker of sexual misconduct in December 2022. After being paid to address the Spartans football team on sexual misbehavior and her experience as a rape survivor, she alleges that Tucker made unwanted approaches. She claimed that during a phone chat in April 2022, Tucker also engaged in uninvited masturbation. Even while Tucker acknowledged masturbating, he claimed in a statement released last week that it was done in the context of an intimate relationship.
Tracy told USA Today that Tucker cancelled a speech at the university after she voiced her worries about his behavior. She was qualified to make a claim under the school’s sexual misconduct policy since she had an ongoing professional relationship with the athletic department.
In the letter, Michigan State made it clear that Tucker was being fired for improper conduct unless he can “present sufficient reasons to dispute” those grounds during the following seven days.
With the termination for cause, the school is hoping to avoid paying Tucker the remaining $79 million on his contract. Tucker’s representative did not immediately respond to messages left for him. Through her lawyer, Tracy declined to comment.
Harlon Barnett, a longtime MSU assistant, has already been named interim coach, and Mark Dantonio, a former longtime Spartans coach, is working with Barnett as a consultant.