Sept. 18 (UPI) — Michigan State University school officials told head football coach Mel Tucker on Monday they have begun the process of firing him “for cause” over allegations of sexual harassment.
MSU Athletic Director Alan Haller said in a statement issued to media outlets that Tucker’s agent has been given written notice of the university’s intent to terminate his coaching contract under its “moral turpitude” clause.
Haller gave Tucker seven days “to present reasons” why he shouldn’t be terminated for cause, adding that if he cannot or does not, he will be fired on Sept. 26.
Tucker was suspended from his duties last week following an allegation that he sexually harassed a rape survivor.
USA Today reported that Brenda Tracy — a rape survivor, author and survivor advocate who had given talks on the subject to the MSU football team — filed a complaint against the coach in December in which she stated that Tucker made sexual comments about her and masturbated without her consent during a phone call.
The newspaper said that during an investigation by school officials, Tucker admitted masturbating while talking to Tracy but denied any misconduct and claimed the act was consensual.
He defended himself in a public statement issued the day following the story, claiming Tracy’s allegations of harassment “are completely false” and school’s investigatory process “so flawed that there is no other opportunity for the truth to come out.”
The coach, who is married, said he and Tracy had an “intimate, adult relationship” in which they exchanged dozens of calls and that she had accepted gifts from him. The coach said her accusations were acts of personal and professional revenge.
However, in a copy of MSU’s letter to Tucker provided by Haller, school officials dismissed those claims, stating, “At this point, the University has amassed a body of undisputed evidence of misconduct that warrants termination for cause.”
The school said his behavior regarding Terry was especially egregious since she was hired by MSU “for the sole purpose of educating student-athletes on, and preventing instances of, inappropriate sexual misconduct” — a fact that has “brought public disrespect, contempt, and ridicule upon the university.”
Tucker, who has a compiled a 20-14 record during his three-plus seasons as head coach, signed a 10-year, $95 million contract in 2021 while leading the Spartans to an 11-2 season and top 10 finish.