Michigan State has fired head football coach Mel Tucker in a move that saves the school from paying about $80 million remaining on Tucker’s contract signed in 2021.
Tucker was terminated over allegations that he sexually harassed Brenda Tracy, an activist and rape survivor who MSU paid $10,000 to share her story with the school’s football team. Michigan State said Wednesday that Tucker failed to present adequate reasons for why he should not be fired for cause after having what he described as consensual phone sex with Tracy in an April 2022 phone call.
MSU sent Tucker a letter earlier this month informing him that the school planned to terminate him for cause over his conduct that triggered an Early Termination Provision of the 10-year, $95 million contract he signed in 2021. Tucker’s MSU contract made him the sixth-highest-paid coach in college football, the highest-paid Black coach in college football history, and the highest-paid in the Big Ten.
“Simply put, Mr. Tucker’s response does not provide any information that refutes or undermines the multiple grounds for termination for cause set forth in the notice,” Alan Haller, MSU VP and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics said in a statement. “Instead, his 25-page response, which includes a 12-page letter from his attorney and a 13-page ‘expert report,’ provides a litany of excuses for his inappropriate behavior while expressly admitting to the problematic conduct outlined in the notice.”
Tucker went 20-14 in three-plus seasons at Michigan State, and his career record as a college football head coach is 25-21, including his 2019 season spent at Colorado. He also was an interim head coach for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011. Harlon Barnett has been serving as Michigan State’s head coach since Tucker was suspended on September 10, the day Tracy’s allegations became public in a USA Today report.