Michigan State coach Mel Tucker has been suspended as the active coach of Michigan State football less than 24 hours after it was revealed he is the subject of an MSU Title IX investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. According to the Detroit Free Press and ESPN, Tucker is on leave with pay pending the outcome of the university’s investigation. Secondary coach Harlon Barnett will serve as the interim head coach, with former Spartans coach Mark Dantonio expected to assist the program in a presently undefined role.
According to USA Today, while initial reports on Sunday stated erroneously that Tucker was fired by Michigan State, the Title IX investigation will continue before the university makes a decision on his future as head coach of the Spartans. A formal hearing has been for Oct. 5-6.
The complaint against Tucker was filed in December 2022 by Brenda Tracy, a prominent rape survivor and activist against sexual violence. Tracy was gang raped at the hands of four men — three college football players and a recruit — in 1998. She went public in 2014 and has used her traumatic experience to sent a message to college sports: ‘violence against women must stop.’ Tracy has accused Tucker of making sexually suggestive comments during a phone call on April 28, 2022. Tracy visited MSU at least three times as an activist starting in 2021, and built a relationship with Tucker as part of her work on campus. Tracy has also alleged numerous other inappropriate incidents.
In statements provided to the Title IX investigator, Tucker acknowledged that the April 28 phone call occurred; however, he claimed it was a consensual encounter: “Ms. Tracy’s distortion of our mutually consensual and intimate relationship into allegations of sexual exploitations has really affected me. I am not proud of my judgement and I am having difficulty forgiving myself for getting into this situation, but I did not engage in misconduct by any definition.”
Tucker signed a 10-year, $95 million fully guaranteed contract with the school after his second season with the Spartans, leading them to an 11-2 record. He is off to a 2-0 start in his fourth year at Michigan State after beating Richmond 45-14 on Saturday night.
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