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Michigan State coach placed on leave over sexual harassment allegations

 September 11, 2023

Michigan State University football coach Mel Tucker has been suspended in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

The school made headlines over the weekend when officials decided to suspend Tucker without pay. This move came after a report surfaced accusing Tucker of sexually harassing a rape survivor last year, as reported by Fox News.

Allegations arise in USA Today report

The allegations against Tucker were initially reported by USA Today. This caught the attention of many and subsequently led to an investigation by ESPN, further escalating the issue.

Alan Haller, Michigan State's athletic director, made an official announcement regarding Tucker's suspension.

In response to varying reports suggesting that Tucker would be either fired or suspended, Haller confirmed that the suspension was indeed in effect. Furthermore, it was stated that Tucker's suspension came without pay.

Coach Tucker had led the Spartans on the gridiron since 2020. He recently signed a ten-year contract extension in November 2021 valued at $95 million.

Interim coach and Dantonio's return

With Tucker's sudden suspension, the university moved quickly to put new leadership in place.

Harlon Barnett, the team's secondary coach, was appointed to helm the team in an interim capacity. In another surprising twist, former head coach Mark Dantonio is making a comeback as an associate head coach.

Brenda Tracy, a well-known advocate for sexual assault prevention, has been identified as the complainant against Tucker.

In a disturbing revelation in USA Today, it was reported that Coach Tucker had inappropriately propositioned Tracy, asking if she would consider dating him if he wasn't married.

Moreover, during a phone call, he allegedly engaged in non-consensual sexual acts.

Tracy remarked:

It’s like he sought me out just to betray me.

Tracy's involvement with Michigan State

Tracy has had previous interactions with the Michigan State football team. She addressed players in August 2021 and again in April 2022, sharing insights on preventing sexual violence and misconduct.

Recognizing her efforts, Tracy was honored as an honorary captain during the team's spring football game in April.

Following her interactions with the team, Tracy reported receiving multiple calls from Coach Tucker.

He even suggested a private meeting, according to Tracy. The unsettling nature of these interactions led her to file a complaint with the university’s Title IX office in December.

During the investigation, there were conflicting accounts fromTracy and Tucker. While Tracy maintained that Tucker made inappropriate sexual remarks and actions over the phone, Tucker provided a different narrative.

Coach Tucker stated:

Ms. Tracy’s distortion of our mutually consensual and intimate relationship into allegations of sexual exploitation has really affected me. I am not proud of my judgment, and I am having difficulty forgiving myself for getting into this situation, but I did not engage in misconduct by any definition.

External investigation and upcoming hearing

To ensure a fair and unbiased investigation, Michigan State opted to hire an external Title IX attorney. The investigation concluded in July.

There is an upcoming hearing slated for Oct. 5-6 to determine whether Coach Tucker violated any school rules.

As of now, representatives for Tucker have not responded to requests for comments.


  • Mel Tucker, football coach at Michigan State University, has been suspended without pay following allegations of sexual harassment.
  • Brenda Tracy, an advocate for sexual assault prevention, is the complainant against Tucker.
  • The allegations, first reported by USA Today, have been the subject of an external investigation.
  • A hearing to determine any violations by Tucker is scheduled for early October.