Michigan State University informed head football coach Mel Tucker on Monday of its intention to terminate his contract as the school evaluates sexual harassment allegations made against him.
Athletic director Alan Haller wrote a letter to a sports management company that represents Tucker detailing the intent. The letter states that Tucker admitted to behavior that violated the terms of his contract.
Under a process outlined in Tucker’s employment contract, the coach has seven calendar days to respond with reasons why he should not be fired, according to a school statement released Monday.
USA Today first reported sexual harassment allegations against Tucker by a woman who said he made unwelcome sexual advances and masturbated during a phone call with her without her consent. The accusations were mentioned in the university’s letter to the coach this week.
Tucker, 51, who said he is separated from his wife and has two children, told USA Today the allegations against him are “completely false.” Tucker insisted that an intimate phone call with his accuser was consensual and outside the scope of Title IX and school policy.
The alleged conduct allegedly occurred in 2022 with a woman under contract to provide a “sexual misconduct prevention educational program” for the Michigan State football team, according to the letter.
The seller filed a complaint under the federal civil rights law known as Title IX, and the university hired a third party to investigate the allegations. This process is overseen by the institution’s Office for Civil Rights.
In the letter of intent, Haller wrote that Tucker admitted to behavior that violated the terms of his contract, including a “moral turpitude” clause that essentially prohibits behavior that would attract “disrespect, contempt or of public ridicule” towards the institution.
The letter stated that Tucker admitted during the investigation to commenting on the salesman’s body, flirting with the plaintiff and “masturbating and making sexually explicit comments.”
“The undisputed facts described above provide multiple grounds for termination,” Haller wrote.
A hearing on the matter was scheduled for October 5 and 6. However, absent sufficient reasons not to move forward, the termination will take effect on September 26, Haller said.
In a separate statement Monday, Michigan State University said it hired a law firm on Sept. 12 to investigate “alleged privacy violations” by school officials and others. related to the Tucker investigation.
The announcement came a day after the Lansing State Journal reported that the institution was trying to find out who leaked the name of the coach’s accuser.
Tucker is in the third year of a 10-year, $95 million contract and if he is fired for cause, the school would not have to pay him the remainder of his contract.
“This action does not terminate the ongoing matter with the Office for Civil Rights; this rigorous process will continue,” the university said in its statement Monday.