Mel Tucker has been suspended by Michigan State following an investigation into sexual harassment allegations.
Michigan State football head coach Mel Tucker has been suspended without pay after reports surfaced placing the Spartans head coach in the middle of a sexual harassment investigation filed back in December. Tucker is accused of sexually harassing Brenda Tracy, a woman who educates athletes on sexual violence and harassment. After the university’s investigation went public on Saturday, Michigan State AD Alan Haller formally suspended Tucker in a press conference.
Around Dec. 2021, Tucker and Michigan State announced that they were partnering with Tracy to “fight the culture of sexual harassment and violence in sports,” according to USA Today’s Kenny Jacoby. The two worked closely together, with Jacoby reporting that Tucker invited Tracy to campus three times, while also making her the honorary team captain for the 2022 Michigan State spring game.
April 22, 2022:
On a phone call between Tracy and Tucker (per USA Today), Tracy accused Tucker of maxing sexual comments about her and masturbating over the phone. Tucker, when asked about this by the Title IX investigator, said that Tracy mischaracterized the call, saying that the two were having consensual “phone sex”. Tucker did acknowledge masturbating on the phone call.
For this investigation, Michigan State hired an outside Title IX investigator, who finished her investigation in July, with the hearing set to begin on Oct. 5, 2023.
September 9, 2023:
The USA Today report about the investigation and accusation goes public after the Spartans’ win over Richmond. Tucker could not be reached for comment in the story.
September 10, 2023:
Michigan State interim president Teresa Woodruff and AD Alan Haller suspended Tucker without pay. Harlon Barnett will serve as the interim head coach, with Mark D’Antonio returning to provide assistant head coaching duties. D’Antonio, of course, stepped down in 2020 after being accused of multiple NCAA violations in a lawsuit, according to the Detroit News. On top of that, the Detroit Free Press found over a year-long investigation that multiple MSU players were accused of sexual assault during D’Antonio’s tenure.
This is what Haller had to say about suspending Tucker now instead of earlier on, per The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach:
Michigan State AD Alan Haller was asked what changed during the process of the investigation to make him take action now to suspend Mel Tucker. Here is his full answer: pic.twitter.com/oUi4JAdGni— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) September 10, 2023
October 5-6, 2023:
A formal hearing is expected for Tucker, which is scheduled during the Spartans’ bye week. This hearing will conclude whether Tucker violated the school’s sexual harassment and exploitation policy. If the hearing decides that Tucker did violate this policy, it could lead to his firing, only three years after signing a massive coaching extension to remain head coach of the Michigan State Spartans.
Tucker has a lot of money at stake. Tucker has a buyout for more than $70 million, but the university firing him for cause would allow them to get out of that payment. We’ll update this story as it develops.
SB Nation typically doesn’t identify accusers in sexual harassment situations, but made an exception because Brenda Tucker gave USA Today permission to identify her.