Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller has informed suspended football coach Mel Tucker that he is being fired because of his alleged sexual misconduct against a sexual violence advocate and survivor.
Michigan State University intends to fire football coach Mel Tucker after the coach was accused of sexual harassment, the university announced Monday.
“I, with the support of the administration and board of trustees, have given Mel Tucker written notice of intent to terminate his contract for cause,” the school’s vice president and director of athletics Alan Haller said in a press release. “This notice process is required as part of his existing contract. The notice gives Tucker seven calendar days to respond and provide reasons to me and the interim president why he should not be terminated for cause.”
The move comes about a week later It was reported by USA Today Tucker was under investigation for alleged sexual harassment, which led to the university suspending him without pay.
In a statement Tuesday, Tucker said the university knew at least since March about the information it relied on to terminate his contract. He said the move to fire him only came after the allegation was leaked to the press.
“The investigation is designed to determine whether I violated policy. I did not. But regardless, fundamental fairness requires that the process unfold before any sanction(s) are determined,” he wrote.
Tucker also said the announcement came after he emailed Haller to request medical leave “for a serious health condition.”
When asked about Tucker’s statement, Michigan State University said it had no further comment beyond the letter of intent and statement sent Monday.
According to USA Today reportTucker is said to have made sexual comments and masturbated while on the phone with Brenda Tracy, an attorney and rape survivor.
Tracy reported her call with Tucker to the university’s Title IX office, USA Today reported. “The idea that someone could know me and say they understand my trauma, but then inflict that trauma on me again, is so disgusting to me that it’s hard for me to wrap my head around it,” Tracy told USA Today. “It’s like he sought me out just to betray me.”
In a statement obtained by CNN Last week, Tucker called Tracy’s allegations “completely false” and said the investigation into his conduct “has not been fair or impartial.” He described the phone call as “a completely mutual, private event between two adults.”
CNN has not independently verified the details of the report.
The investigation into the coach’s conduct began in December 2022, Haller said at a news conference earlier this month.
Tucker, a college and NFL defensive backs coach over the past two decades, became Michigan State’s head coach in 2020. In his second season, the team went 11-2 and he signed a massive 10-year, $95 million contract it made him one of the highest paid coaches in college football. Last year, however, the team finished a disappointing 5-7, including losses to rivals Michigan and Ohio State.
The university released a copy of the notice they sent Tucker, along with a copy of his employment agreement signed in 2021 — which they allege he violated and admitted to violating during the investigation.
The notice says Tucker “made unwelcome sexual advances toward” an activist contracted by the university to teach the school’s football team about sexual misconduct. Tucker “masturbated on a phone call without her consent,” the document says.
“While the formal grievance process continues, the undisputed facts described above provide additional grounds for termination under the agreement’s early termination provisions,” the notice to Tucker reads.
The notice alleges that Tucker admitted to making comments about the activist’s body, making flirtatious comments, masturbating and making “sexually explicit comments” about himself and her while on the phone with the activist.
The coach’s conduct “constitutes a substantial breach” of his duties, “demonstrates ‘conduct constituting moral turpitude'” and “has brought ‘public disrespect, contempt, or ridicule upon the university,'” all of which are grounds for his dismissal, according to the document.
“The unprofessional and unethical conduct is particularly serious as the vendor in question was contracted by the university for the sole purpose of educating student-athletes about and preventing instances of inappropriate sexual conduct,” the document reads.
The school is conducting an investigation into the incident in accordance with its “Relationship Violence and Sexual Offenses” and Title IX policies.
An attorney for Tracy, Karen Truszkowski, said no police report was filed. She issued a statement on behalf of his client last week.
“Brenda Tracy did not intend to make her identity public,” the statement read. “She was and remains committed to complying with and completing MSU’s internal investigative process. She respected the process and chose not to go to the media to maintain the integrity of the process.
“After the investigative process was completed, we would have decided what, if any, further steps were to be taken. Instead, her identity was revealed without her knowledge or consent, warranting express actions to protect her. Her choice to allow this process to continue private was deprived.”