EAST LANSING, Michigan — Following a series of disturbing allegations, Michigan State University (MSU) has embarked on a course to terminate Mel Tucker’s tenure as head football coach. Alan Haller, the director of the institution’s athletic department, issued a letter on Monday suggesting that Tucker’s contract will be terminated due to a number of proofs of misconduct.
The letter addressed to Tucker’s agent, Neil Cornrich, indicated MSU had discovered “undisputed evidence of misconduct” necessitating the termination of Tucker’s employment. The university had previously suspended Tucker, now in his fourth year as head coach, on Sept. 10 after his dubious conduct during an April 2022 phone call with Brenda Tracy, renowned national sexual assault victims rights advocate, was exposed. Following Tucker’s suspension, Harlon Barnett assumed the position of acting head coach for the Spartans.
Haller, following the directive of the administration and board, formally served Tucker a notice of intent to terminate his contract, as required by the terms of his existing agreement. The notification allows Tucker a period of seven days to contest the decision, during which he may present reasons why he should not be terminated for cause to the athletic director and the interim president. The ongoing investigation by the Office for Civil Rights into Tucker’s behavior continues regardless of these immigration proceedings.
Tucker signed a robust contract, amounting to $95 million over ten years, in Nov. 2021 following a successful season where MSU enjoyed an 11-2 season and finished among the top-10. Since his appointment on Feb. 12, 2020, Tucker has tallied a career record of 20-14 with the Spartans. His attorney Jennifer Z. Belveal, currently representing him in the ongoing university’s Office of Institutional Equity’s investigation, is yet to make a comment on the situation.
In the official letter, MSU cited Tucker’s failure to uphold the moral turpitude clause in his contract as grounds for termination, alleging that he acted unprofessionally when he admitted to masturbating during the controversial phone call with Tracy.
After the allegations were made public, Tracy accused Michigan State, or insiders from the university, of leaking her name to the press, and stated that she had been forced to independently engage with USA TODAY to control her narrative. Prompted by the allegations of leaked information, MSU has now hired the Jones Day law firm to delve into these alleged breaches of confidentiality.
In the wake of the scandal, previous MSU head coach Mark Dantonio re-entered the fold, assuming an advisory role while secondary coach, Harlon Barnett, took the reins as acting head coach. Their debut performance, however, was a sour one, with the Spartans losing 41-7 to Washington. A Title IX hearing into Tracy’s allegations against Tucker is scheduled for the first week of October.