Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker watches a play against Central Michigan from the sideline during the second half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023.

Mel Tucker plans wrongful termination lawsuit against Michigan State

Mel Tucker’s attorney informed Michigan State on Thursday that Tucker will file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the university.

Michigan State officially fired Tucker for cause on Wednesday following a months-long investigation into sexual harassment allegations. The university said in a letter that his actions with a female contractor left it “subject to public disrespect and ridicule.”

Tucker’s attorney, Jennifer Belveal, responded Thursday by requesting that the school prepare records pertaining to all members of the athletic department and other university employees, “in anticipation of litigation.”

Michigan State’s investigation alleged that Tucker, 51, sexually harassed Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault survivor and activist, during what she has characterized as unwanted phone sex in April 2022.

While Field Level Media’s policy is not to name alleged victims of sexual harassment or assault, Tracy agreed to be identified in a USA Today interview and provided hundreds of pages of documentation.

According to Tucker’s attorneys, Tucker and Tracy had “an entirely mutual, private event between two adults living at opposite ends of the country” and Tucker has said the investigation contained “an ulterior motive designed to terminate my contract.”

Wednesday’s termination letter, signed by athletic director Alan Haller, said Tucker’s 25-page response to the allegations did “not provide any information that refutes or undermines the multiple grounds for termination for cause set forth” in the notice to terminate. Instead, Haller said the response “provides a litany of excuses for your inappropriate behavior while expressly admitting to the problematic conduct outlined” in the notice.

Belveal called Tucker’s firing an “illegal termination” in Thursday’s letter. She requested Michigan State retain all phone and computer records as well as physical files from athletic department employees, the general counsel’s office and all board of trustees members.

Tucker was one of the highest-paid coaches in college football, signing a 10-year, $95 million contract before the 2022 season. The contract would have been fully guaranteed had the school fired Tucker for performance.

However, it contains a clause that allows Michigan State to fire him, without payment, if he engages in “conduct which, in the University’s reasonable judgment, would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule on the University,” according to USA Today.

Harlon Bennett has served as the Spartans’ interim head coach since Tucker was initially suspended without pay Sept. 10. The team has lost both games under Bennett so far.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald looks on during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Northwestern fires coach Pat Fitzgerald

Northwestern fired football coach Pat Fitzgerald on Monday, several media outlets reported, amid continued fallout of a controversy surrounding alleged hazing within the program.

The decision comes three days after Fitzgerald received a two-week suspension without pay following an independent investigation that found hazing allegations were “largely supported by evidence.”

A player then came forward to the student newspaper, the Daily Northwestern, and revealed that some of the hazing included coerced sexual acts. Fitzgerald is also accused of presiding over a culture of racism.

University president Michael Schill wrote a letter to the Northwestern community Saturday night admitting that the school “may have erred” in the severity of its discipline.

Northwestern had not yet confirmed the reports or announced an interim coach.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA;South Florida Bulls head coach Jeff Scott prior to the game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

South Florida fires coach Jeff Scott

South Florida, in the midst of a 1-8 season, fired head football coach Jeff Scott on Sunday.

Special teams coordinator Daniel Da Prato was named interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“When Jeff came to Tampa in December of 2019, we had high expectations for where he could take our football program,” athletic director Michael Kelly said in a statement. “While he did so many things right, including rebuilding our culture, pushing forward our Indoor Performance Facility, and engaging our community, the on-the-field results fell well below our standards. He is a tremendous person and class individual and we wish him, Sara, Savannah and Hunter all the best in the future.”

The Bulls lost their seventh straight game Saturday when host Temple pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 54-28 win. South Florida is 0-5 against American Athletic Conference opponents and won its only game against Howard, an FCS opponent.

Scott was hired ahead of the 2020 season after serving as Clemson’s wide receivers coach, run game coordinator and co-offensive coordinator between 2008 and 2019. He originally signed a five-year deal and also inked a two-year extension following the 2021 season.

But South Florida went just 4-26 under Scott, including a paltry 1-19 in conference.

“I would like to thank our players, coaches and staff members for all their hard work during my time as the head coach at USF,” Scott said in a statement. “I especially want to thank USF President Rhea Law and Vice President/Director of Athletics Michael Kelly for giving me the incredible opportunity to lead the football program the last three years. I will miss this team and will do anything in my power to help them in the future. I am disappointed that our hard work didn’t translate to more success on the field, but I am confident that we have set a new foundation. I know the future of USF football is bright and my family and I will always remember our time at USF as a very special chapter in our lives.”

–Field Level Media