Home Sports Mel Tucker suspended without pay for accusations of Sexual Harassment

Mel Tucker suspended without pay for accusations of Sexual Harassment

Mel Tucker head coach of the Michigan State Spartans looks on before a game against the Richmond Spiders at Spartan Stadium on Sept. 9, 2023, in East Lansing, Michigan. (Mike Mulholland/Getty Images/TNS)

By James Herold

On Sept. 10, Michigan State University Football Coach Mel Tucker was suspended without pay for allegedly sexually harassing rape survivor and anti-sexual violence advocate, Brenda Tracy. 

USA Today published a story detailing the sexual harassment which culminated with Tucker mastrubating and making sexual comments toward Tracy during a phone call. Tracy told USA Today that she sat frozen for several minutes. His violation, she said, reopened 25-year-old wounds from when she was raped by four men, two of them being Oregon State University football players, a junior college player, and a high school recruit. “The idea that someone could know me and say they understand my trauma but then re-inflict that trauma on me is so disgusting to me, it’s hard for me to even wrap my mind around it,” Brenda Tracy told USA TODAY. “It’s like he sought me out just to betray me.”

Meanwhile, in his statements to the Title IX investigator, Mel Tucker acknowledged masturbating on the call but said Brena Tracy grossly mischaracterized the episode. He said they had consensual “phone sex.” “Ms. Tracy’s distortion of our mutually consensual and intimate relationship into allegations of sexual exploitation has really affected me,” Tucker wrote in a March 22 letter to the investigator. “I am not proud of my judgment and I am having difficulty forgiving myself for getting into this situation, but I did not engage in misconduct by any definition.”

Two years ago, Mel Tucker signed one of the most lucrative contracts in college sports which was a $95 million dollar contract. Now he could lose out on the roughly $80 million he is owed if Michigan State University fires him for his actions. “This step, suspending Mel Tucker without pay, is…necessary and appropriate for today’s circumstances…these actions are not taken lightly,” Interim President Teresa Woodruff said during the Sept. 10 evening press conference. 

This is the second high profile sexual abuse case that has put Michigan State in the headlines. Many may remember the Larry Nassar case at MSU in which Nassar was convicted and imprisoned up to 100 to 235 years on sexual assault charges related to the 500+ victims he molested. On Sept. 15, 2021, four elite American gymnasts, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman, testified before the U.S. Senate regarding the mishandling by FBI agents of abuse allegations brought against Nassar and how the agents made false statements regarding their reports and misinformation about the botched investigation. 

As for Mel Tucker’s suspension, former Michigan State football head coach Mark Dantonio has been named Associate Head Coach alongside secondary coach Harlon Barnett who has been named the active football head coach.

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