EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – News Monday afternoon that MSU has taken the first steps to fire MSU football head coach Mel Tucker was a surprise to some students, while others say they expected it.
Tucker was suspended on Sept. 10, after USA Today published a report outlining specifics of an ongoing sexual harassment investigation.
But the other shoe dropped Monday, with officials sending Tucker a letter notifying him they were moving to “terminate” his contract, for cause.
MSU Junior Chris Cocher says the move by the university was right. “It’s definitely the right thing that should have occurred, that should have happened aside from him charged outside of MSU,” Cocher tells 6 News.
He did, however, raise questions about the timing of the notification of termination. He says bad publicity had a hand in the decision-making. The letter from Athletic Director Alan Haller claims multiple media reports on allegations of sexual harassment by Tucker “brought public disrespect, contempt and ridicule upon the university.”
Lieza Klemm is a journalism major at Michigan State University.
“MSU has this nasty history of not always acknowledging sexual harassment suits and letting them continue,” she says. “You know, believe the victim. She’s been through this traumatic thing multiple times, like the worst thing you can do is not believe her and keep him in a position of power.”
Freshman Daveion Smith says the news was a jolt to him. He hopes to one day play on the gridiron. He and his peers feel disappointed by the allegations against Tucker, he says.
“At the end of the day, I just hope the team finishes up strong and puts their foot in front of the other and continues to be a great program that I know they are.”
Tucker has been under investigation by the university since December 2022. A contractor, sexual assault prevention educator and rape survivor Brenda Tracy filed the allegation, She says Tucker was inappropriate in his interactions with her, including comments about her body and a phone call in which Tucker masturbated.
In a statement after the news of the allegations and the investigation became public, Tucker acknowledged the actions Tracy accused him of but said they were consensual. Tracy denies his claims.
On Sept. 10, the day the story broke, MSU announced it had suspended Tucker without pay pending the outcome of an Oct. 5 and 6 hearing. The hearings are still scheduled, but Athletic Director Alan Haller wrote in a letter to Tucker Monday afternoon that his admissions in the reports and his statements rose to violations of his contract and required he be dismissed for cause. Specifically, the letter says Tucker had committed acts of moral turpitude. He had also brought embarrassment to the university through his actions, Haller.