MSU football coach Mel Tucker denies sexual harassment allegations
Content warning: This section contains mention of sexual harassment.
The GIST: On Monday, the aforementioned MSU football HC Mel Tucker released a scathing rebuttal to allegations that he sexually harassed a sexual assault prevention consultant last year. The survivor’s public report of the claims late Saturday led to Tucker’s unpaid suspension on Sunday.
Tucker’s response: In his statement, Tucker vehemently denied the accusations, saying the pair instead shared an “intimate, adult relationship,” and that the most egregious event in question was consensual. He also called the upcoming October 5th hearing to decide his fate “a sham” and “unfair.” Never heard that one before…
- The consultant (whose name was leaked against her wishes) fired back on X, accusing Tucker of victim-blaming and trying to halt the investigation, which was initiated with a Title IX complaint in December 2022 and has since been helmed by a third-party law firm, according to MSU’s guidelines.
MSU’s role: Some, including the aforementioned Governor Whitmer, are wondering whether the university should have done more when the complaint was first filed. But, as detailed in yesterday’s episode of The Gist of It, MSU admin followed protocol — all details of Title IX investigations must remain confidential until completed.
- Decision-makers only learned the specifics of the allegations when the survivor went public last weekend. Within 24 hours, they suspended him — at least until the already-scheduled hearing’s conclusion next month.
- Why not simply fire him? Because doing so before the investigation ends could risk a wrongful termination suit, à la Northwestern and Pat Fitzgerald. Plus, without an official ruling determining cause, they’d be on the hook for a massive contract buyout.
What’s next: Don’t expect any major moves until after the October 5th hearing. However, it’s hard to imagine Tucker keeping his job — let alone his reputation — once the investigation concludes.
- In the meantime, defensive backs coach Harlon Bennett will serve as interim HC, while Tucker’s predecessor, Mark Dantonio, will return from retirement to assist when the Spartans host No. 8 Washington this Saturday. Best of luck, Coach.