Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker has released a statement through his lawyer defending himself against allegations of sexual harassment made by rape survivor Brenda Tracy. Tucker, who was suspended without pay on Sunday, claims that the investigation into his conduct with Tracy was motivated by an ulterior motive to terminate his contract. Tracy had accused Tucker of crossing the line during a telephone call in April 2022.
Tucker acknowledges having a personal relationship with Tracy, stating that they developed a friendship that grew intimate over time. He also claims that Tracy encouraged their personal relationship by accepting gifts from him, including expensive athletic shoes, a $200 Venmo payment, and a personal contribution to her non-profit.
Regarding the April 2022 call, Tucker asserts that it was a mutual and intimate conversation initiated by Tracy. He denies making any sexual comments or engaging in inappropriate behavior without her consent. Tracy, on the other hand, maintains that Tucker made sexual comments about her and masturbated during the call without her consent.
Tucker criticizes the upcoming hearing scheduled for October 5-6, claiming it is flawed and not designed to arrive at the truth. He argues that Tracy and her witnesses are not required to testify under oath, and his side cannot present evidence of his innocence.
Mel Tucker, 51, is in his fourth season as head coach of the Michigan State Spartans. He has a 20-14 overall record at the university. Defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett will serve as the interim head coach in Tucker’s absence, with former coach Mark Dantonio assisting as an associate head coach.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a sexual assault survivor herself, released a statement expressing the need for transparency and accountability from the university. She emphasized the importance of learning from the past and not repeating mistakes.
Tucker’s contract with Michigan State, signed before the 2022 season, is worth $95 million over ten years. It is fully guaranteed if he is fired for performance-related reasons. However, the contract allows the university to terminate him without payment if he engages in conduct that brings public disrespect, contempt, or ridicule on the institution.