Michigan State University (MSU) fired head football coach Mel Tucker on Wednesday over sexual misconduct allegations, according to a letter from the athletics department.
Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller accused Tucker of failing to live up to the moral standards expected of the coach, according to Tucker’s termination letter shared by WOODTV’s David Horak. Haller said Tucker’s “unconvincing rationalizations” to the university and purported attempts to shift responsibility “cannot and do not excuse” his alleged behavior.
MSU said it has canceled the remainder of Tucker’s 10-year, $95 million contract, according to the Associated Press (AP). Now, a battle may ensue in court over the coach’s receiving his remaining pay, ESPN reported.
Tucker was given the opportunity to explain his actions to the university as per the employment contract, yet the university found his “Response” wanting and consequently terminated Tucker’s employment effective Sept. 27, according to the letter. (RELATED: Michigan State Launches Process To Fire Mel Tucker Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations: REPORT)
— David Horak (@DavidHorakTV) September 27, 2023
Tucker previously hired sexual assault victims advocate Brenda Tracy to discuss sexual violence and consent with the football team, USA Today reported. Tracy later filed a sexual harassment complaint against the coach, alleged Tucker had masturbated while on a phone call back in April 2022 and suggested he’d hurt her career if she spoke out about purportedly happened, according to the outlet. A formal hearing on the matter is scheduled for Oct. 5 and 6.
“It’s like he sought me out just to betray me,” Tracy told USA Today earlier in September. Tucker has said the incident was “consensual phone sex.”
Mel Tucker’s firing could represent the beginning of more challenges for Michigan State during a potentially ugly and expensive court battle. https://t.co/vVuHVmu9tb
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 27, 2023
The university believes it has ample legal ground to get out of paying the roughly $80 million still remaining of the $95 million contract signed in 2021, The Detroit News reported. The initial contract made Tucker one of college sports’ highest-paid coaches, according to USA Today.
“The conversations Tucker had with Ms. Tracy regarding her appearance, flirtation, and phone sex, occurred exclusively in their private lives, unrelated to either Tucker’s work or her work, and were entirely consensual,” Tucker’s lawyers said in a letter to the university Monday, according to ESPN.
“In fact, as discussed below, under Michigan law, assault and battery does not even constitute ‘moral turpitude,’ and the flimsy foundation of the university’s finding—a private relationship involving mutual flirting and one instance of consensual phone sex—falls far short of the mark,” the letter continued, Sports Illustrated reported.