Michigan State University has fired football coach Mel Tucker following a sexual assault investigation.
Tucker was being investigated for a complaint filed by Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault awareness activist. The university cited his “admitted and undisputed behavior” as the reason for his dismissal.
According to the university, Tucker violated his contract and committed acts of “immoral conduct,” subjecting the institution to ridicule. Tucker’s contract, worth $95 million over 10 years, was terminated due to these actions.
Sex scandal at Michigan State University
Brenda Tracy alleged that Tucker sexually harassed her during a phone call in April 2022. Several months later, she filed a complaint with the school’s Title IX office.
Tucker, 51, was notified on Sept. 18 that the university planned to fire him, giving him a week to respond.
“Mr. Tucker’s response does not provide any information that refutes or undermines the multiple grounds for termination set forth in the notice,” he told The Associated Press athletic director Alan Haller.
Tucker admits phone sex, but consensual
Tucker acknowledged having phone sex with Tracy, but maintains it was consensual.
His attorney Jennifer Belveal denied that Tucker’s actions constitute acts of “immoral conduct” and mentioned that Tucker suffers from a “serious medical condition.” Tucker requested a medical leave while he was suspended, but the school denied the request.
If the university is successful, Tucker will lose about $80 million it was due to receive through Jan. 15, 2032. Tracy’s allegations were made public by USA Today earlier this month, and on the same day the report was published, Tucker was suspended.
The rise and fall of Mel Tucker
Tucker began his coaching career under Nick Saban as a graduate assistant for the Spartans in 1997.
He returned to school with one of the biggest contracts in college sports after leading Colorado for one season and serving as an assistant at Georgia, Alabama and Ohio State.
He also worked in the NFL, leading the Jacksonville Jaguars as interim coach during the 2011 season. At Michigan State University, he went 20-14 in just over three seasons, leading the team to 11 wins in 2021. His overall record as a college football head coach is 25-21.
Tucker has been suspended since the allegations became public. In his absence, the team will be led by an interim coach in its next game.