Michigan State Coach Mel Tucker Accused of Sexual Harassment, Reportedly Under Investigation by University

By Dan Hope on September 10, 2023 at 1:32 am
Mel Tucker vs. Central Michigan
Junfu Han/USA TODAY Network

Update: Tucker was suspended without pay by Michigan State on Sunday.

Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker is reportedly under investigation by MSU after he was accused of sexual harassment by sexual violence prevention educator Brenda Tracy.

ESPN’s Dan Murphy reported early Sunday morning that Tucker is the subject of an ongoing sexual harassment investigation by MSU that started months ago and remains open. Shortly after Murphy’s report, a story published by USA TODAY‘s Kenny Jacoby outlined the allegations against Tucker by Tracy, who alleges that Tucker made sexual comments about her and masturbated during an April 2022 phone call. (Warning: USA TODAY’s story includes graphic details of alleged sexual harassment.)

Tracy filed a complaint with Michigan State’s Title IX office in December. Tucker told a Title IX investigator in March that he had consensual “phone sex” with Tracy, but Tracy told the investigator that Tucker’s romantic interest in her was one-sided and that she attempted to set boundaries with Tucker multiple times prior to the April phone call.

Per USA TODAY’s report, Tracy – a rape survivor who speaks to athletes throughout the country about sexual assault prevention – initially met Tucker in August 2021 when she visited Michigan State for an educational presentation to the MSU football team. Over the next year, Tucker and Tracy reportedly spoke on the phone at least 27 times, and Tucker – who is married – became romantically interested in Tracy during that time.

A 106-page investigation report delivered to MSU by Title IX investigator Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger did not issue a finding of fault, instead referring the case to a hearing, which is scheduled to take place in October, per USA TODAY.

Despite the ongoing investigation, Tucker has continued to coach the Michigan State football team through its first two games of the season.

A Michigan State spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied the investigation into Tucker in a statement Sunday morning, saying “the university does not comment on potential investigations” and that investigations “need the ability to be conducted in a thorough and confidential manner.”

Michigan State announced Sunday afternoon that interim president Teresa Woodruff and athletic director Alan Haller will hold a press conference at 5 p.m. to “provide an update on the football program.”

Tucker is currently in the second year of a 10-year, $95 million contract extension he received from Michigan State in 2021. While that contract was fully guaranteed, it included a clause that MSU could fire Tucker for cause if he “engaged in any conduct which constitutes moral turpitude or, which in the university's reasonable judgment, would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule,” according to ESPN.