Content warning: This story addresses allegations of sexual harassment and may be difficult to read and emotionally upsetting.
Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker is the subject of a university investigation after allegations of sexual harassment were filed against him, according to multiple reports.
According to USA Today, Brenda Tracy — a prominent rape survivor and activist — accused Tucker of making sexual comments and masturbating while on a phone call with her after the two had developed a professional relationship because of her advocacy work. Tracy reportedly filed a complaint against Tucker with the school’s Title IX office in December, and MSU hired an outside Title IX attorney to investigate. The attorney finished her probe in July, according to USA Today, and Tucker is set for a hearing to determine whether he violated school policy. That hearing is set for Oct. 5 and 6 — when the football team has a bye week.
Tucker “acknowledged masturbating on the call but said Tracy grossly mischaracterized the episode” in his statements to the investigator, USA Today reported. Tucker said they had consensual “phone sex.”
Tucker and Tracy initially met the first time she visited MSU to speak to athletes in August 2021, per USA Today. Tracy, who survived a gang rape by college football players in 1998, visits campuses to raise awareness about sexual assault through an activism platform named “Set the Expectation.” Michigan State named Tracy honorary captain for a spring game in 2022.
— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) April 13, 2022
Michigan State is known for its missteps in handling sexual abuse accusations against Larry Nassar, the disgraced former USA Gymnastics and campus physician. Nassar sexually abused over 300 female gymnasts; he pleaded guilty in 2018 to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.
Tucker, 51, is in his fourth season as the Spartans coach. Michigan State signed him to a 10-year, $95 million contract extension in November 2021. The deal — privately funded by two donors, including now-Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Mat Ishbia — is fully guaranteed unless Tucker is fired for specific causes, including if he engages “in any conduct which constitutes moral turpitude or, which in the university’s reasonable judgment, would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule.”
Tucker is 19-14 as Michigan State’s coach. The Spartans are 2-0 this season.
(Photo: Robert Goddin / USA Today)