Michigan State head football coach Mel Tucker has been suspended without pay following allegations of sexual harassment. According to a report by USA Today, Tucker had been making $750,000 a month before his suspension, resulting in him earning at least $6 million since the university launched its investigation. The investigation was initiated after Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault prevention advocate, filed a formal complaint against Tucker in December 2022. Tracy accused Tucker of making unwanted sexual comments and engaging in inappropriate behavior during a phone call in April 2022.
Michigan State policy typically requires cases to be handled within 90 days of a formal complaint. However, Tucker's investigation took 216 days due to delays, including his refusal to sit down with investigators for three months. Once the investigation was completed on July 25, further delays occurred in scheduling a hearing. Initially set for Aug. 22 and 23, Tucker's attorney claimed that he was unavailable on those dates, resulting in the rescheduling of the proceedings for Oct. 5 and 6.
On Monday, Tucker released a statement denying the allegations and criticizing the upcoming hearing as a "sham." He accused the university of lacking fairness and unbiasedness in its investigation and suggested ulterior motives, such as wanting to avoid any association with the Larry Nassar scandal or targeting him based on his race or gender.
Tracy, who had been invited to speak to the football team on multiple occasions, also responded to Tucker's statement, accusing him of attempting to delay and halt the investigative process. She expressed her intention to participate in the hearing and invited Tucker to do the same.
In response to the public disclosure of the allegations, Tucker claimed that he had a consensual, adult relationship with Tracy. He stated that Tracy had encouraged their personal relationship, which involved late-night phone calls discussing intimate matters. Tucker emphasized that Tracy initiated the discussion in question and sent him provocative pictures. He maintained that Tracy never objected or hung up during the phone call, which lasted 36 minutes.
Tucker criticized the fairness and impartiality of the investigation and claimed that the upcoming hearing was not designed to uncover the truth. He suggested that the university's handling of the situation was influenced by the Larry Nassar scandal, which involved the sexual abuse of athletes at Michigan State.
Michigan State hired Tucker in 2020, and he received a 10-year, $95 million contract extension in 2021. Since his appointment, Tucker has achieved a 20-14 record with the football program. The university's decision to suspend Tucker without pay follows the publication of the sexual harassment allegations by USA Today.