Michigan State coach calls sexual harassment claims 'completely false'

Head football coach Mel Tucker was suspended without pay over the allegations.
Michigan State head football coach Mel Tucker
Posted at 8:14 AM, Sep 12, 2023

Michigan State head football coach Mel Tucker responded Monday to the sexual harassment allegations against him — calling them "completely false" — one day after he was suspended without pay.

The university said Sunday that Tucker is being investigated for allegations of sexual harassment after a report was published by USA Today.

USA Today reported that the accuser is Brenda Tracy, who is a rape survivor who works to educate athletes about sexual assault and harassment. An incident reportedly happened in April of 2022. Tracy alleges Tucker made sexual comments about her and then masturbated on the phone without her consent.

“The idea that someone could know me and say they understand my trauma but then re-inflict that trauma on me is so disgusting to me, it’s hard for me to even wrap my mind around it,” Tracy said to USA Today. “It’s like he sought me out just to betray me.”

Tucker claims it was consensual, calling it an "entirely mutual, private event."

The full statement from Tucker released Monday afternoon is below:

Mel Tucker's full response by WXYZ-TV Detroit

In his letter, Tucker says in part "... it was an entirely mutual, private event between two adults living at opposite ends of the country. She initiated the discussion that night, sent me a provocative picture of the two of us together, suggested what she may look like without clothes, and never once during the 36 minutes did she object in any manner, much less hang up the phone." He also said about the woman behind the complaint, "Her twisting of our personal relationship months after it concluded is designed to revive her career and destroy my life, precipitated by her greed."

Tracy tweeted her own statement, saying, "This is just more of the same DARVO, deflection, victim blaming and lies that I’ve been dealing with now for months. Coach Tucker has been delaying and trying to stop the investigative process since the beginning."

MSU's athletic director Alan Haller said upon receiving the reports from Tracy on the incident, MSU's Office of Civil Rights immediately reviewed them and commenced a subsequent investigation, per university protocol, using a third-party investigator. He also confirmed he was aware of the report in late December.

Michigan State coach accused of sexually harassing rape survivor
Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker.

Michigan State coach accused of sexually harassing rape survivor

Head football coach Mel Tucker has been suspended by the university pending the results of an outside investigation into the allegations.


According to the university, a hearing is scheduled for Oct. 5-6.

“The university’s formal conclusion of the investigation will occur once the hearing and final decision processes are complete,” Haller said on Sunday.

An MSU spokesperson confirmed to Scripps News Detroit that MSU leadership did not know the contents of the complaint until USA Today's reporting.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a statement Monday evening:

“As a survivor, I’m shocked. As a Spartan, I’m disappointed. As Governor, I want answers.

“I know the pain that so many feel when allegations like this come to light because I live it too. It’s retraumatizing. MSU holds a special place in so many of our hearts—which is what makes this hurt more.

“We deserve to know when the university knew about these allegations and why they made the decisions they did. We need to ensure that one of our state’s flagship universities, one that carries so much weight around the world, is learning from the past and not recreating it.

“Spartans, survivors, and Michiganders—we deserve better."

Harlon Barnett will act as interim head coach and Mark Dantonio will act as an associate head coach, Haller said.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Detroit.