Attorneys representing suspended Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker on Monday sent a letter to the university, laying out their assertion that administrators prematurely jumped to conclusions and that the university has no grounds to fire their client.
The letter comes a week after Michigan State announced its intent to fire Tucker for cause following its investigation into allegations Tucker sexually harassed Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault survivor and awareness speaker, during unwanted phone sex in April 2022. The university provided Tucker seven days to respond to the notification last Monday.
Calling the university’s findings in its investigation “flimsy,” attorneys from the firm Foley & Lardner LLP made the following assertions in its letter:
–The phone sex between Tucker and Tracy was consensual (a claim Tucker has repeatedly made since the allegations came to light).
–The university has no jurisdiction to investigate — let alone discipline — Tucker over a private phone call.
–The university and Tracy broke confidentiality by disclosing the details of the 1,200-page investigation.
–The university announced the intent to fire Tucker more than seven months after first learning of Tracy’s allegations and before fully completing its investigation, violating Tucker’s right to due process.
Last Tuesday, Tucker himself replied to the university’s notice, stating much of what his attorneys stated in their letter.
“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 is one of the highest-paid coaches in college football, signing a 10-year, $95 million contract before the 2022 season. The contract is fully guaranteed if the school fires Tucker for performance.
However, it contains a clause that allows Michigan State to fire him, without payment, if he engages in “conduct which, in the University’s reasonable judgment, would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule on the University,” according to USA Today.
Michigan State suspended Tucker without pay Sept. 10 amid its months-long investigation into his conduct with Tracy. Tucker said he helped bring Tracy, a prominent activist for sexual misconduct prevention, to campus in 2021 and they developed a friendship that grew intimate over time. Tucker said he was estranged from his wife “for a long time” by that point.
Tucker confirmed he had a “late-night intimate conversation” with Tracy in April 2022. While he said it was mutual and Tracy initiated the call, Tracy contends that Tucker “made sexual comments about her and masturbated” during that call and she had not consented.
Tucker, 51, is in his fourth season as head coach of the Spartans. His overall record at Michigan State is 20-14 after a 5-7 season in 2022.