Michigan State’s Mel Tucker Suspended Amid Sexual Harassment Claims

By Emily McLaughlin

Mel Tucker has been accused of sexual assault claims by Brenda Tracy. With that, Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller has suspended head football coach Mel Tucker without pay since Sunday, Sept. 10. Haller and other Michigan leaders claim they had no idea about these allegations until news reports broke out about the sexual harassment claims.

The accuser of Tucker’s actions, Brenda Tracy, is a rape survivor and activist. Tracy promotes educating athletes across the country about the importance of sexual assault. 

Tracy’s non-profit campaign called Set The Expectation tells her story and the ways men specifically can change the way sexual violence occurs. 

First meeting in August 2021, Tucker was intrigued by Tracy’s story. Tucker had asked Tracy to come and speak to his players and staff about the importance of sexual assault. 

Tucker even asked Tracy to come back to campus for several other visits. Two additional visits to speak to the athletes and staff and a different time to become an honorable captain on the teams’ spring football games.

Their friendship had grown as they continued to call and text over 27 times, both work and non-work-related topics. They spoke regularly at night, which made it easier for both their work schedules. The conversations grew deeper and more personal, such as their mental health, jobs, and families. 

Throughout this time, Michigan State led a record of 11-2, their best season in six years. Making Tucker one popular coach, he had a 10-year $95 million deal in November 2021; he was fully guaranteed even if he got fired for poor performance. The only way for him to lose the money and the contract was if he brought public disrespect, contempt, or ridicule to the University.

Those rules Tucker had to follow broke on Apr. 28, 2020. A phone call that night made everything turn for the worst. 

In a USA Today report, “Tracy sat frozen for several minutes while Tucker made sexual comments about her and masturbated. His violations reopened 25-year-old wounds from her rape by four men – two Oregon State University football players, a junior college player and a high school recruit.” 

Tracy filed a Title IX at the University three months after the incident in December. Aiming to be anonymous, her name was leaked to the media without her consent. 

“Someone outed me to the media,” Tracy explains in the Lansing State Journal. “I am angry that my right to confidentiality has been violated, and I hope those responsible are held accountable.”

In the aftermath of everything, Tracy thought she would not be the person she claimed to be if she did not step up and speak her whole truth. An additional eight months she was passed until she filed 1200 pages of investigative material to the media. 

Tucker’s response exclaims, “Brenda Tracy’s allegations of harassment are completely false.” 

Tucker continues to explain that their developed romantic relationship grew out of a friendship. They both told each other things out of trust and exchanged gifts back and forth with one another. 

Explaining, “Even the investigator hired by the University found that we had a “personal relationship” and that we shared “deeply personal and private information with each other.” Shared Tucker in his statement

Tracy clapped back on Twitter, saying, “He cannot afford to go to a hearing that determines the credibility of the participating parties. I believe this statement is his way of getting out of participating in the hearing.”

This hearing is scheduled on Oct. 5 and 6. With the ongoing investigation, the top five picks to replace Mel Tucker could be Mike Elko, Pat Narduzzi, Jonathan Smith, Lance Leipold, or Jason Candle. 

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