LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Suspended head MSU football coach Mel Tucker came out swinging against the university Tuesday.
In a statement released by Tucker, he says he was “disappointed” but “not surprised,” about the university’s notification of the intent to terminate his contract for cause. Tucker’s statement Tuesday he stood by a claim he had done nothing wrong, and the university was pursuing him over a consensual, private affair.
Cooley Law School professor Mark Dotson tells 6 News Tucker now has three options moving forward with the university.
“He’s gonna go down in history, and the story is not gonna be a good one,” Dotson says.
Tucker started making non-football headlines Sunday, Sept. 10 when USA Today published a story detailing allegations by sexual harassment prevention educator, MSU contractor and rape survivor Brenda Tracy against Tucker. That day, the MSU Athletic Director suspended Tucker without pay.
On Monday, Haller informed Tucker the university was going to terminate his contract for cause over the allegations – and his admissions to them – that he had sexual conversations with Tracy and at one point engaged in masturbation during a phone call with her. The university says his admitted actions amounted to “moral turpitude,” and brought embarrassment to the university.
“It’s unfortunate for Michigan State that they have been involved again in another affair,” Dotson says.
Tucker has seven days to respond to the university’s letter. Tucker’s last contract day, according to Haller’s letter, is September 26.
“What he can do is sue Michigan State for breach of contract,” Dotson says of Tucker’s options. “Based on the same argument they breached the contract to get a temporary restraining order preventing Michigan State from terminating him.
He can also allege Tracy, by sharing details of the case with USA Today, violated his confidentiality.
“He may try to claim that she breached some kind of privacy contract expectation that he had,” Dotson says. “I think that will also be a loser’s argument, but he can give it a shot if he wants.”
In Tuesday’s statement, Tucker says “MSU cut off any semblance of interest in the truth or due process by terminating me weeks before the hearing.”
He alleges the university had failed to address his concerns about previous leaks that led to Freedom of Information Act requests being filed with the university.
He called the situation “a miscarriage of justice that has devastated me and my family.”
MSU has also confirmed it has hired Jones Day to investigate who leaked Tracy’s identity to media sources in Michigan. Jones Day was contracted by the university on September 12, just two days after the news broke.
The leak allegedly led Tracy to provide her entire story to USA Today in advance of the Oct. 5 and 6 hearing.
Dotson says he’s not certain Tucker will show up for the university’s hearings in October. Those hearings will be held by Zoom and will not be open to the public.
Dotson says the search for the source may be fruitless. “Good luck trying to find the source to that,” he says.