Content warning: This story contains depictions of graphic alleged sexual harassment.
Michigan State’s Title IX office has found it was more likely than not that former coach Mel Tucker sexually harassed anti-rape activist Brenda Tracy.
The office issued a ruling against Tucker on Wednesday after a hearing earlier in October. Tracy filed a Title IX report with the school alleging that the fired football coach sexually harassed her while she was contracted as a vendor with the school. In Wednesday's ruling, the school determined that Tucker had violated its rules against sexual harassment.
According to USA Today, the summary of the 73-page report following an investigation into the allegations said “there is sufficient evidence to conclude that [Tucker] subjected [Tracy] to unwelcome conduct based on sex when he FaceTime video called [Tracy] without a shirt on; when he attempted to meet up with [Tracy] alone following the spring game; and when he non-consensually masturbated and used graphic, sexual language on a phone call with [Tracy].”
The report also found that Tucker provided no evidence supporting his claim that he and Tracy were involved in a relationship and noted that Tucker had said he was in different locations than his expense reports showed during instances of communication with Tracy.
Tucker was suspended without pay after the allegations became public in early September and officially fired for cause on Sept. 27. The school said that "it is decidedly unprofessional and unethical to flirt, make sexual comments and masturbate on the phone with a university vendor” and that Tucker had brought “public disrespect and ridicule” to the school.
There was a clause in Tucker’s contract that allowed the school to fire him with cause if he brought disrepute to the university via his conduct. By firing Tucker with cause, Michigan State says it doesn’t have to pay Tucker the over $75 million he’s owed on the 10-year, $95 million contract he signed after the 2021 season.
Michigan State hired Tucker from Colorado after the 2019 season. The Spartans made the leap from 2-5 in 2020 to 11-2 in 2021 and signed Tucker to that lucrative contract extension after a win in the Peach Bowl. MSU took a big step back in 2022 and went 5-7 and was 2-0 before Tucker was suspended.
The Spartans have lost five straight games since Tucker was replaced by interim coach Harlon Barnett and fell 49-0 to No. 2 Michigan in Week 8. MSU plays at Minnesota on Saturday.