MSU football coach Mel Tucker suspended after sexual harassment allegations

Michigan State University football coach Mel Tucker was placed on an unpaid suspension this weekend stemming from allegations he sexually harassed a sex assault survivor who had worked with the team.

Brenda Tracy is an activist who speaks to college teams about sexual violence had spoken to Tucker's athletes numerous times. 

In April 2022, Tucker was accused of masturbating while on a phone call with Tracy. He allegedly told investigators that he did that but called it consensual "phone sex."

The university first learned about the developments in December 2022 and an outside investigation was conducted. The report from that investigation was released in July. He was suspended after new developments, though what those developments were is not clear.

"This step to place Mel Tucker on an unpaid leave is equally necessary and appropriate for today's circumstances," MSU Interim President Teresa Woodruff said during a press conference Sunday. "It is not lost on me the significance of this moment or its impact on those involved in the case, our university community, and the extended Spartan family."

While Tucker, 51, is suspended, Harlon Barnett will be the interim head coach, and former head coach Mark Dantonio is serving as the associate head coach. 

A formal hearing will be held Oct. 5-6. During this hearing, which will be similar to a bench trial, Tucker's future will be determined.

Tucker risks losing a 10-year, $95 million contract.

Michigan State may fire Tucker for cause if he "engages in any conduct which constitutes moral turpitude or which, in the University’s sole judgment, would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule upon the university," according to his contract. The school also was able to suspend Tucker, without pay, if he "materially breaches" his contract.