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Mel Tucker fired by Michigan State amid sexual harassment probe

Mel Tucker in a green shirt

Sep 3, 2021; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker walks on the field during warmups before the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State has fired head coach Mel Tucker amid an ongoing sexual harassment investigation.

Tucker was informed on Sunday that he has been terminated, Brett McMurphy of Action Network reports. Secondary coach Harlon Barnett will take over as interim head coach. Former Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio will also assist the team.

News surfaced over the weekend that Michigan State hired an outside Title IX attorney to investigate a claim that was filed against Tucker last December. The accuser, Brenda Tracy, agreed to identify herself and share more than 1,200 pages of case documents with Kenny Jacoby of USA Today.

Tracy is a sexual assault prevention advocate who in 2014 publicly alleged that she was raped by four men, including two former Oregon State football players, in the late 1990s. She has since started a nonprofit called Set The Expectation and travels around the country speaking with student-athletes and coaches about preventing sexual misconduct.

Tracy developed a relationship with Tucker and the Michigan State program and visited the school several times between 2021 and 2022. She said Tucker made unwanted advances toward her and accused him of masturbating without her consent during a phone call between the two.

Tucker admitted to Michigan State’s Title IX investigator that he masturbated on the call but described the incident as mutual phone sex. He said he had a “mutually consensual and intimate” relationship with Tracy.

Tucker signed a 10-year, $95 million contract extension with Michigan State in November 2021. A clause in contract states that the school can fire him with cause “if the coach 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.”

A hearing had reportedly been set for October, during which an outside Title IX attorney was expected determine whether the evidence shows Tucker violated school rules.

Michigan State is off to a 2-0 start this season. Tucker finishes with a record of 20-14 in three-plus seasons with the Spartans.

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