Michigan State plans to fire Mel Tucker for cause

EAST LANSING — Michigan State University has begun the process of firing Mel Tucker as head football coach.

Alan Haller, the school’s athletic director, sent a letter dated Monday informing the 51-year-old Tucker that MSU plans to terminate his contract for cause.

“The university is aware of various facts that led to the unfortunate decision to terminate your employment for cause,” the letter to Tucker said. “At this point, the university has gathered indisputable evidence of misconduct warranting dismissal. For cause.”

Haller suspended the fourth-year head coach on Sept. 9 USA TODAY story detailing alleged sexual misconduct during an April 2022 phone call with Brenda Tracy, a prominent national sexual assault victims’ rights advocate. Harlan Barnett took over as head coach of the Spartans.

“With the support of management and the board, I have provided written notice of intent to terminate Mel Tucker’s contract for cause,” Haller said in a statement. “This notice process is required as part of his current contract. This notice gives Tucker seven calendar days to respond and present reasons to me and the interim president why he should not be terminated for cause.

“This action does not end the Office for Civil Rights case; the rigorous process will continue.”

Tucker signed a 10-year, $95 million contract on November 24, 2021, while leading MSU to an 11-2 season and a top-10 finish that season. He was hired on February 12, 2020, and has a 20-14 career record with the Spartans.

Tucker’s attorney, Jennifer Z., told the university’s Office of Institutional Equity’s investigation into Tracy’s allegations. Belwell was immediately reached for comment.

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Since the USA TODAY story was published, Tracy has alleged that someone at Michigan State or the university leaked her name to the media and said she spoke to USA TODAY alone to get her story published.

Now, the university says it has hired law firm Jones Day to investigate “alleged breaches” of confidentiality.

Secondary coach Harlon Barnett was named head coach after former MSU head coach Mark Dantonio suspended Tucker to serve in an advisory role. In their first game in charge, the Spartans fell 41-7 at home against Washington.

The school has a Title IX hearing on Tracy’s allegations against Tucker the first week of October.

Contact Chris Solari at: [email protected]. Follow him @crissolari.

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