(WXYZ) — Michigan State University says they have begun the process to terminate Head Football Coach Mel Tucker's contract.
Michigan State University Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Alan Haller released the following statement about the situation:
I, with the support of administration and board, have provided Mel Tucker with written notice of intent to terminate his contract for cause. This notification process is required as part of his existing contract. The 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.
This action does not conclude the ongoing Office for Civil Rights case; that rigorous process will continue.
The statement came on the same day Michigan State University announced they had hired the Jones Day law firm to investigate the leak that led to Brenda Tracy's identity being revealed in the Tucker investigation.
A spokesperson confirmed to 7 Action News that Jones Day was hired as the outside firm, and that the process of commencing the investigation began on Sept. 12.
Tracy, an activist and rape survivor, said Tucker sexually harassed her during a phone call in April 2022. Eight months later, Tracy filed a complaint with the school’s Title IX office and the investigation was completed in July.
A hearing is scheduled for the week of Oct. 5 to determine if Tucker violated the school’s sexual harassment and exploitation policy and a ruling could take up to 60 days.
The 51-year-old Tucker, who said he is estranged from his wife and has two children, said the allegations against him are “completely false." Tucker insisted that the intimate phone call he had with Tracy was consensual and outside the scope of both Title IX and school policy.
Tucker is in the third year of a $95 million, 10-year contract and if he is fired for cause, the school would not have to pay him what’s remaining on his deal.
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 leak, though, potentially gives Tucker leverage in settlement negotiations with the school.
Officially, the school said “unprofessional behavior and not living up to the core values of the department and university,” was the reason Tucker was suspended.
Tracy is known for her work with college teams, educating athletes about sexual violence. Michigan State paid her $10,000 to share her story with the football team.
The Spartans (2-1) were routed 41-7 by No. 8 Washington on Saturday in Harlon Barnett's debut as interim coach.
Michigan State hosts high-scoring Maryland (3-0) on Saturday.