Connect with us

MSU to Fire Coach Mel Tucker Following Sexual Harassment Allegations



Courtesy of coach_mtucker/Instagram
Michigan State University announced on Monday it intends to fire football coach Mel Tucker, who was suspended without pay earlier this month amid an investigation into sexual harassment allegations.
Reports by ESPN and USA Today detailed allegations that Tucker sexually harassed the activist and speaker Brenda Tracy. Tracy had been hired to address the team about sexual assault awareness.
Tracy, a rape survivor who runs a nonprofit that works to educate athletes about sexual violence, was invited to the university by Tucker twice to speak to players and staff, and a third time to be honored as an honorary team captain. Over the course of several months, the two became friendly.
But on April 28, 2022, Tucker allegedly made sexual comments about Tracy, according to a Title IX complaint Tracy filed with the university in December.
According to her complaint, Tucker’s violation was made all the worse because he knew of her history as a rape survivor. Tracy was raped by two Oregon State University football players, a junior college player and a high school recruit 25 years ago.
“I, with the support of administration and board, have provided Mel Tucker with written notice of intent to terminate his contract for cause,” MSU vice president and director of athletics Alan Haller said in a letter Monday. “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.”
In a news conference earlier this month, Haller said he became aware of the complaint in December, and an outside investigation concluded on July 25. A formal hearing to determine whether Tucker violated school policy was scheduled for the first week of October.
Tucker’s behavior “demonstrates ‘conduct which constitutes moral turpitude,’” and “has brought ‘public disrespect, contempt, or ridicule upon the University,” which are grounds for firing, according to the letter.
“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 letter stated.
Michigan State assistant coach Harlon Barnett has been serving as interim head coach since Tucker’s suspension, and former head coach Mark Dantonio returned to the team as an associate head coach.
The complaint is a blow to the university, which was still trying to recover its reputation after former USA Gymnastics and campus physician Larry Nassar was accused in 2015 of sexually assaulting hundreds of female athletes over the course of nearly two decades.
Nassar is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole following multiple convictions for the sexual assault of women and girls under the guise of medical treatment, and possession of child pornography.
“Considering what Michigan State recently went through with Larry Nasser – a $500 million payout for his abusing gymnasts – the last thing the school could afford was to keep Tucker around, even considering he denied liability in a way Nassar couldn’t,” said attorney and law lecturer Danny Karon, who is not involved in the case.
“In this manner, a bigger concern for Michigan State is the potential for a class-action lawsuit for violation of Title IX, which requires a school to respond promptly to sexual harassment in a manner that is not deliberately indifferent,” Karon said. “Keeping Tucker around could hurt its defense and cost the school even more money.”
TMX contributed to this article.