Michigan State University Head Football Coach Suspended Over Sexual Harassment Allegations

Michigan State University (MSU) on Sunday suspended its head football coach, Mel Tucker, in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

Athletic director Alan Haller formally announced Tucker’s suspension at a news conferences held by MSU at 5 p.m., according to the Detroit Free Press. Haller named secondary coach Harlon Barnett as Tucker’s replacement. Mark Dantonio will be stepping in as associate head coach, speaking to Barnett through a headset during games to provide assistance.

“In the MSU of today, when any report comes into the university, it is appropriately and rigorously reviewed,” MSU interim president Theresa Woodruff said, according to the outlet. “This morning’s news might sound like the MSU of old; it was not. It is not because an independent unbiased investigation is [and] continues to be conducted.” (RELATED: Michigan State Hires Mel Tucker As Their New Football Coach)

Tucker is the subject of a Title IX investigation, USA Today reported as part of its own probe. Sexual assault victims advocate Brenda Tracy has accused the 51-year-old of masturbating while on a phone call with her. Tucker has insisted the incident was “consensual phone sex,” according to the outlet.

Tracy, an honorary captain of the MSU Spartans’ open spring practice April 16, 2022, alleged the phone call occurred 12 days later and caused Tucker to nix her third MSU training session set to take place July 25, 2022, USA Today reported. Their final interaction allegedly occurred Aug. 2, 2022.

“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 told USA Today. “It’s like he sought me out just to betray me.”

“Ms. Tracy’s distortion of our mutually consensual and intimate relationship into allegations of sexual exploitation has really affected me,” Tucker wrote in a letter to the investigator in March, USA Today reported. “I am not proud of my judgment and I am having difficulty forgiving myself for getting into this situation, but I did not engage in misconduct by any definition.”

Tracy filed her Title IX complaint in December 2022, according to the outlet. The Title IX investigation concluded in July, and a hearing is scheduled for Oct. 5 and 6, the Detroit Free Press reported. Tracy has not filed a police report, her attorney, Karen Truszkowski, told CNN.