After Michigan State University announced that it intends to terminate Mel Tucker after he was accused of sexual harassment, the embattled coach claims that other motives were at play behind the university’s decision, CBS News reports.
In a statement released on Tuesday (September 19), Tucker claims that the university has "ignored its own policies in pushing a biased investigation" into the claims of harassment from Brenda Tracy who filed the complaint. Tracy accused Tucker of making sexually suggestive comments and masturbating as she “sat frozen for several minutes” during a phone call on April 28, 2022.
"Let's be clear. I don't believe MSU plans to fire me because I admitted to an entirely consensual, private relationship with another adult who gave one presentation at MSU, at my behest, over two years ago," Tucker wrote. "MSU knew about the information on which it supposedly relies to end my contract since at least March 2023. Yet only after Ms. Tracy and potentially others leaked the confidential investigation report to the press, did MSU suddenly decide this same information warrants termination."
"About one week later, with no new information, MSU moved to terminate me -- sanctimoniously and illogically claiming this action has no impact on the ongoing investigation," Tucker continued. "The investigation is designed to determine if I violated policy. I did not. But regardless, basic fairness requires that process play out before any sanction(s) are determined."
Additionally, Tucker claimed that his request for medical leave was ignored by MSU with the notification of termination coming after he made the request.
"MSU sent its notice of intent to terminate just days after I emailed [Michigan State athletic director] Alan Haller requesting a medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for a serious health condition," Tucker said in the statement. "I can only conclude that MSU does not care about my rights, the truth, or its future liability for policing its employees' private lives."
On Monday (September 18), Haller described Tucker’s actions as “unprofessional and unethical” and said that he would not remain with the team regardless of the outcome of the hearing after initially suspending him on September 10.
"I, with the support of administration and board, have provided Mel Tucker with written notice of intent to terminate his contract for cause," Haller said in a statement. "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.
Tucker, who is married with two sons, said the investigator concluded that he did have a "personal relationship” with Tracy.
"Tracy expressed consent to every facet of our relationship," Tucker said. "I look forward to one day obtaining discovery against MSU, including the Trustees and the Athletic Department, to see what they really knew and said about this matter, as well as their motives in handling the entire investigative process."
MSU replaced Tucker with Harlon Barnett, naming him the interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Former Spartans coach Mark Dantonio has also returned to the team as an associate coach.
Despite the controversy that surrounds the squad, the Spartans are 2-1 this season.