Former Michigan State coach Mel Tucker is preparing to file a potential wrongful termination lawsuit against the school after he was a letter obtained by ESPN that was sent to Michigan State's general counsel through his attorney, requested the school maintain electronic and paper records for all athletic department employees and several other school officials "in anticipation of litigation."on Wednesday. Tucker, in
Tucker, 51, was initially suspended without pay on Sept. 10 after allegations of sexual misconduct from rape survivor and activist Brenda Tracy were made public. Tucker admitted to having a personal relationship with Tracy but claimed allegations of unwelcome sexual comments and acts during an April 2022 phone call were done with consent. Spartans assistant Harlon Barnett was subsequently named Michigan State's acting coach.
The university initiated the firing process for Tucker on Sept. 18. Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller, in a letter to Tucker informing him of the decision, wrote that Tucker's actions with Tracy violated the moral turpitude clause of his contract and "brought public disrespect, contempt and ridicule" upon Michigan State.
Tucker said he was "disappointed but not surprised" by his firing. He suggested Michigan State's leadership had ulterior motives in firing him, contending that "a cursory reading of the facts and timeline should cause any fair-minded person to conclude that other motives are at play." By firing him with cause, Michigan State avoided paying Tucker nearly $80 million still owed on his deal, which was set to run through 2031.
A hearing on whether Tucker's interactions with Tracy violated university polices is still set to proceed as scheduled in early October.
Tucker was in his fourth season with Michigan State. He spent one season as Colorado's coach in 2019. Tucker's tenure with the Spartans peaked in 2021, when he led the program to 11 wins and Peach Bowl victory against Pitt. Tucker earned a lucrative contract extension, but Michigan State regressed to a 5-7 finish in 2022.
The Spartans began the 2023 campaign 2-0 before Tucker was suspended. Michigan State since dropped contests against Washington and Maryland under Barnett's watch to fall to 2-2. The Spartans play at Iowa in Week 5, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.