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