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HomeSportsTucker's response to MSU: 'Miscarriage of justice'

Tucker’s response to MSU: ‘Miscarriage of justice’

Tucker’s response to MSU: ‘Miscarriage of justice’


Pete ThamelESPNSeptember 19, 2023, 11:07 am ET4 minute read

Suspended Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker responded Tuesday to the school’s notice that it intends to fire him for cause, saying in a statement that “there are other motives at play” and that there has been a “bias ” against him throughout the process.

After being notified of the school’s intention to fire him on Monday, Tucker was given seven days, per his contract, to respond to the notice in the wake of a pending sexual misconduct case brought by Brenda Tracy, a speaker at sexual awareness.

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In Tucker’s statement to ESPN on Tuesday morning, he stated that his firing is a “miscarriage of justice” and came about due to “Ms. Tracy’s inadequate public disclosure of the entire 1,200-page investigative file on his unfounded complaint against me.”

“…Let’s be clear. I don’t believe MSU plans to fire me because I admitted to a private and entirely consensual relationship with another adult who made a presentation at MSU, at my behest, more than two years ago.”

By terminating him for cause, Michigan State aims to avoid paying Tucker the more than $79 million remaining on his contract. Tucker’s statement foreshadows litigation to claim that money, as he says he hopes to “someday obtain evidence against MSU, including the Trustees and the Athletic Department.”

In his statement, Tucker points out what he perceives as multiple flaws in how MSU handled his case, including the recent decision to dismiss him for cause after initially suspending him as an “interim measure” last week.

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One of Tucker’s biggest issues is the timing of MSU officials learning of the allegations. The complaint was filed in December 2022.

“MSU was aware of the information on which it allegedly relied to terminate my contract as far back as at least March 2023,” Tucker stated in the letter. “However, only after Ms. Tracy and potentially others leaked the confidential report of the investigation to the press did MSU suddenly decide that this very information justified its termination.”

Tucker said he was not given a fair process, as he was scheduled to have a hearing in early October. In an earlier statement, she referred to that hearing as “a sham.” Instead, he received notification that he was being fired almost a week after being suspended without pay.

“Approximately a week later, with no new information, MSU moved to terminate me, sanctimoniously and illogically stating that this action has no impact on the ongoing investigation,” Tucker said in the statement. “The investigation is designed to determine whether I violated the policy. I did not. But regardless, basic fairness requires that the process unfold before any sanction is determined.”

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Tucker said MSU ignored his request for a medical leave and that notice of his dismissal came shortly after that request.

“MSU sent its notice of intent to terminate just days after I sent an email to Alan Haller requesting medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for a serious health condition,” Tucker said in the statement. “I can only conclude that MSU does not care about my rights, the truth or its future responsibility to monitor the private lives of its employees.”

On Monday, Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller sent a five-page letter to Tucker and his agent declaring the “intent to terminate” his contract for cause, citing “a body of indisputable evidence of misconduct that justifies the rescission”.

Tracy’s December 2022 sexual misconduct complaint includes claims of unwanted advances by Tucker, including him masturbating without her consent during a phone call in April 2022. Tucker admitted to masturbating, but claimed in a statement last week past that was part of a consensual relationship. intimate relationship.

Tucker, who is married, added in the letter that he finds “comfort” in the investigator’s conclusion that they had a “personal relationship.”

“Tracy expressed her consent to every facet of our relationship,” Tucker said in his statement Tuesday. “I hope that one day discovery will be obtained against MSU, including the Trustees and the Department of Athletics, to see what they really knew and said about this matter, as well as their motives for handling the entire investigative process.”

In Michigan State’s letter to Tucker, they refer to Tracy as a salesperson, as she was hired to speak to the Michigan State team about sexual assault awareness.

“The unprofessional and unethical behavior is particularly egregious given that the vendor in question was contracted by the University for the sole purpose of educating student-athletes and preventing instances of sexual misconduct,” Haller wrote in the letter to Tucker.

Tucker’s claim of a double standard comes from how the school handled leaks in the case. He says that on August 25, long before the story became public, she “demanded an investigation into the leaks.”

Recently, after Tracy’s attorney complained about a leak of his name, the school hired an outside law firm to investigate, saying confidentiality “is paramount.”

“So when I complain, nothing happens; when she complains, does MSU act?” Tucker said in his statement Tuesday. “This double standard reflects the bias against me throughout this process.”

Tucker has been replaced by staff member Harlon Barnett, who is serving as interim coach. Former MSU coach Mark Dantonio also joined the staff as a consultant and sounding board for Barnett.

ESPN’s Dan Murphy contributed to this report.

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