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Michigan State coach accused of sexually harassing rape survivor

Head football coach Mel Tucker has been suspended by the university pending the results of an outside investigation into the allegations.
MSU head football coach accused of sexually harassing a rape survivor
Posted at 9:13 AM, Sep 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-11 11:41:00-04

Michigan State head football coach Mel Tucker was suspended by the university Sunday, less than 24 hours after accusations were made public by USA Today that he sexually harassed rape survivor and activist Brenda Tracy.

The university's president and athletic director announced the suspension pending an outside investigation into the allegations.

Tracy, who is known for educating athletes about sexual violence, claims the two had developed a professional relationship that was focused on her advocacy work. But that all ended during an April 2022 phone call, in which Tucker allegedly made sexual comments toward her and masturbated, according to her Title IX complaint. 

The conversation came 25 years after Tracy was raped by four men, including two Oregon State University football players, a junior college athlete and a high school recruit.

“The idea that someone could know me and say they understand my trauma but then re-inflict that trauma on me is so disgusting to me, it’s hard for me to even wrap my mind around it,” Tracy told USA Today. “It’s like he sought me out just to betray me.”

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Tucker has acknowledged the phone call with investigators, but said the two had consensual "phone sex."

“Ms. Tracy’s distortion of our mutually consensual and intimate relationship into allegations of sexual exploitation has really affected me,” Tucker wrote in a letter to the investigator. “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.”

The 51-year-old Tucker is in the third year of a 10-year, $95 million contract, making him one of the highest paid coaches in all of sports. He is owed the money even if fired for poor performance, but reports say the only way he wouldn't get the money is if he were convicted of a crime or engaged in conduct "in the University's reasonable judgment, would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt, or ridicule upon the University."

Michigan State says the Title IX investigation was completed in July and a hearing is scheduled for the first week of October to determine whether Tucker violated the school's sexual harassment policy. Secondary coach Harlon Barnett will serve as interim head coach pending the results of the investigation. 


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