Top university terminates head coach’s $79 million contract after he admits to lewd behavior

Michigan State University fired head football coach Mel Tucker for cause on Wednesday after he was accused of sexually harassing a female associate.

The university said it had terminated Tucker “for his admitted and undisputed behaviors which have brought public disrespect, contempt and ridicule upon the university; and constitute a material breach of his agreement, and moral turpitude,” ESPN reported.

Tucker, who took over from coach Mark Dantonio in 2020, was suspended without pay on Sept. 10 after news emerged of allegations filed with the school in December.

On Sept. 18, athletic director Alan Haller sent Tucker a letter informing him that the school intended to fire him for cause, ESPN reported.

By firing Tucker for cause, Michigan State will not have to pay him the $79 million left on his $95 million contract.

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A university hearing on the matter is scheduled for Oct. 5.

Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault awareness speaker who had given a presentation to the Michigan State football team, accused Tucker of masturbating without her consent during a phone call with her in April 2022.

Tucker’s lawyers insist that his behavior was consensual and that he and Tracy had a “personal relationship.”

“The conversations Tucker had with Ms. Tracy regarding her appearance, flirtation, and phone sex, occurred exclusively in their private lives, unrelated to either Tucker’s work or her work, and were entirely consensual,” the lawyers said in a Monday letter.

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“[Tucker] did not engage in unprofessional or unethical behavior or ‘moral turpitude’ by any stretch of the imagination.”

In a statement, Tucker suggested that the university is targeting him because he is a black man.

“I can only conclude that there is an ulterior motive designed to terminate my contract based on some other factor such as a desire to avoid any (Nassar) taint, or my race or gender,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State sports doctor, was convicted of sexually assaulting athletes under the guise of medical care.

One of Tucker’s attorneys said the coach is “just the fall guy for the university’s negligence and misfeasance, the long history of which includes and predates the Nassar matter, but which unfortunately has continued and tainted the University’s handling of this matter.”

Haller described Tucker’s response as a “litany of excuses.”

“Simply put, Mr. Tucker’s response does not provide any information that refutes or undermines the multiple grounds for termination for cause set forth in the notice,” Haller said.

“Instead, his 25-page response … provides a litany of excuses for his inappropriate behavior while expressly admitting to the problematic conduct outlined in the notice.”

Tucker led Michigan State to a 20-14 record during his tenure as head coach.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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