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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Michigan State Coach Denies Allegations Amid Unpaid Suspension

  • MSU suspended Mel Tucker without pay after USA Today reported the existence of a Title IX investigation into his conduct.
  • In his rebuttal, Tucker called an upcoming hearing a “sham” and claimed that the investigation is outside the scope of Title IX and school policies.
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker looks on after a touchdown against Central Michigan during the second half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

In a lengthy statement, suspended Michigan State football head coach Mel Tucker denied allegations that he sexually harassed Brenda Tracy, who had been working with Tucker and the university to educate athletes on sexual violence.

MSU suspended Tucker without pay Sunday after USA Today reported the existence of a Title IX investigation into Tucker’s conduct with Tracy. Michigan State interim president Teresa Woodruff said the school won’t take further action until the investigation has concluded.

The university scheduled an Oct. 5 hearing to determine if Tucker violated school policy and would thus be subject to termination for cause — in which case the university wouldn’t have to pay out the $75 million-plus remaining on Tucker’s contract.

In his rebuttal, Tucker called the upcoming hearing a “sham” and claimed that the investigation is outside the scope of Title IX and school policies — though sexual harassment is a crime and would still fall under termination for cause.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer commented on the investigation saying, “As a survivor, I’m shocked. As a Spartan, I’m disappointed. As Governor, I want answers.”

The Stakes

In the midst of an 11-2 season for the Spartans in 2021, Tucker signed a 10-year, $95 million contract that makes him sixth-highest-paid coach in college football and would keep him in East Lansing until 2032.

The deal was fully guaranteed, meaning the 51-year-old would still be entitled to the money if he were fired for performance alone. Pending the results of the investigation, MSU could avoid paying him almost $80 million.

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