Despite Mel Tucker denying all claims that he sexually harassed a rape survivor and assault awareness speaker, Michigan State University (MSU) says it intends to fire him for cause.
However, the football coach says that “other motives are at play,” and he is “disappointed — but not surprised” by the university’s decision.
“Let’s be clear. I don’t believe MSU plans to fire me because I admitted to an entirely consensual, private relationship with another adult who gave one presentation at MSU, at my behest, over two years ago,” Tucker wrote Tuesday in a lengthy statement.
Tucker says the university did an “about-face,” knowing about the reasons it intends to fire him for cause since at least March. But the school decided that the grounds of the complaint warranted termination once the information was leaked.
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Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker speaks during the Big Ten Conference Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on July 26, 2023. (James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
“MSU is punishing me for Ms. [Brenda] Tracy’s leak, which violated MSU’s rules regarding confidentiality of the investigation,” Tucker wrote.
Tucker also noted that he would be suspended as an “interim measure” and “while the investigation continues,” but the school decided to terminate him “with no new information.” MSU is “sanctimoniously and illogically claiming this action has no impact on the ongoing investigation,” says Tucker.
Tucker stated Michigan State “ignored” his concerns that details of the investigation would be leaked, but the school hired an outside firm to investigate leaks regarding Tracy.
“So when I complain, nothing happens; when she complains, MSU acts? This double standard reflects the bias against me throughout this process” he said.
Tucker also said the school sent him the notice to terminate “just days after…requesting a medical leave…for a serious health condition.”
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker walks the sideline during the second half of the game against the Richmond Spiders at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan, on Sept. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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Again maintaining his innocence, Tucker said he could “only conclude that MSU does not care about my rights, the truth, or its future liability for policing its employees’ private lives.”
“MSU was supposedly going to let that flawed process play out before deciding what to do, but has now reneged on even that… I look forward to one day obtaining discovery against MSU, including the Trustees and the Athletic Department, to see what they really knew and said about this matter, as well as their motives in handling the entire investigative process,” he said. “MSU now claims that after having already terminated my employment, it is committed to completing the “formal grievance process” — a process that expressly calls for confidentiality (which MSU publicly acknowledged failing to provide) — to determine if I violated any school policy. The public can decide if any of this rings true or fair.”
Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker congratulates his team as they come off the field during the game against the Richmond Spiders at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan, on Sept. 9, 2023. (Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Tucker is owed $79 million on the 10-year contract he signed in 2021, so firing him for cause will save the school all of that money.