Mel Tucker calls harassment allegations ‘completely false’ as Michigan State details investigative process

Michigan State coach Mel Tucker responded on Monday to the sexual harassment allegations that led to his suspension. In the almost-two-page document released by attorney Jennifer Z. Belveal, Tucker claims that his encounters with Brenda Tracy — a prominent activist against sexual violence — were “mutual” and “private.” 

“Brenda Tracy’s allegations of harassment are completely false,” Tucker said. “The proceedings initiated by Ms. Tracy are devoid of any semblance of fairness for any matter of this importance, and the University’s ‘hearing’ scheduled for October 5-6 is so flawed that there is no other opportunity for the truth to come out. That is why I share some truth with you now.” 

According to Tucker, he developed a friendship with Tracy in summer 2021 when she gave a presentation at Michigan State. Tucker claims that the friendship “grew into an intimate, adult relationship,” while revealing that he and his wife were estranged at the time. 

Tucker and Tracy engaged in “dozens of calls” from fall 2021 to winter 2022, many of which Tucker claims were initiated by Tracy late at night. Tucker claims Tracy “encouraged our personal relationship” by “inviting and accepting gifts from me.” The gifts allegedly included shoes, Venmo payments and a contribution to Tracy’s non-profit organization Set The Expectation. 

Tucker also addressed a particular phone call in April 2022. Tracy, in her official complaint, claimed that Tucker made sexual comments about her and masturbated for several minutes during the call. Tucker admits to the conversation, claiming that it was “an entirely mutual, private event” and that Tracy initiated the discussion by sending Tucker a provocative picture of the two together. Tracy also suggested what she would look like without clothes and, according to Tucker, never objected during the 36-minute phone call. 

Tucker said that it took Tracy four months to complain about the phone call with the complaint being field only after he confronted her about “spreading rumors about my marriage.” Tucker also denied the fact that he ever canceled any presentations involving Tracy.

“The investigation has not been fair or unbiased,” Tucker’s statement reads. “I can only conclude that there is an ulterior motive designed to terminate my contract based on some other factor such as a desire to avoid any (Larry) Nasser taint, or my race or gender.” 

Tucker’s statement also takes aim at the Title IX hearing scheduled to begin on Oct. 5. He alleges that neither Tracy nor her witnesses will be required to testify under oath, that he cannot present any evidence of innocence and there will be no opening statement or closing remarks nor or any other opportunity to argue his case. 

Michigan State explains investigation 

Also on Monday in wake of the suspension, Michigan State University interim president Teresa Woodruff sent an email to the MSU community in which she explained the investigation process, including the decision to suspend Tucker without pay. 

“In all cases, claimants and respondents are provided with a deliberative process to ensure facts of the matter can be clearly understood,” Woodruff said. “As there have been new developments before the hearing, including details of acknowledged behavior, Athletic Director (Alan) Haller suspended Mel Tucker without pay. While this action was not taken lightly, it was necessary, appropriate and in support of the affected individuals and of the interests of our community.” 

Woodruff says that Michigan State’s higher-ups were made aware of the complaint in late December and that a third-party investigator submitted their report on July 25. The third-party investigator doesn’t make any determinations based on its report, rather they delegate that task to a third-party resolution officer. Woodruff says that the Oct. 5 hearing date was agreed upon by the claimant (Tracy), respondent (Tucker) and the third-party resolution officer. 

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