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Michigan State to terminate Tucker's contract for cause amid investigation

Mike Mulholland / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Michigan State is terminating head coach Mel Tucker's contract for cause, the school announced Monday, according to Detroit Free Press' Chris Solari.

"The (termination) notice provides Tucker with seven calendar days to respond and present reasons to me and the interim president as to why he should not be terminated for cause," Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller said in a statement.

The news comes eight days after the Spartans suspended Tucker without pay. The 51-year-old, who's in the third season of a 10-year, $95-million extension signed in November 2021, is the subject of an ongoing university sexual harassment investigation.

"This action does not conclude the ongoing Office for Civil Rights case; that rigorous process will continue," Haller said.

Tucker said Tuesday in a statement to ESPN's Pete Thamel that he believes "other motives" led to his planned dismissal and called the decision a "miscarriage of justice." He claims Michigan State knew about the allegations since March 2023 yet didn't terminate him until after the investigation was leaked to the media.

Tucker also criticized Michigan State for firing him prior to October's hearing and claimed the school ignored his concerns about leaks. In addition, he said Michigan State delivered its notice of intent to terminate him shortly after he requested a medical leave due to a serious health condition.

"I can only conclude that MSU does not care about my rights, the truth, or its future liability for policing its employees' private lives," Tucker wrote. "I look forward to one day obtaining discovery against MSU, including the trustees and the athletic department, to see what they really knew and said about this matter, as well as their motives in handling the entire investigative process."

Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor and sexual assault prevention activist, says Tucker made sexual comments and masturbated without her consent during a phone call. Tucker called the allegations "completely false" on Sept. 11.

Michigan State hired an attorney to investigate the complaint, and the investigative report was submitted to the school in July. A formal hearing to determine whether Tucker violated the school's sexual harassment and exploitation policy is scheduled for October.

The school also recently said it plans to look into the source of a leak that led to Tracy's identity being revealed.

Tucker posted a 20-14 record with the Spartans after joining the team in 2020. Michigan State won its first two games this season with the head coach on the sideline before suffering a 41-7 loss to Washington on Saturday.

Secondary coach Harlon Barnett is serving as the team's interim head coach. Mark Dantonio, the school's all-time winningest coach, recently joined the school as Barnett's associate head coach.

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