EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University has told Mel Tucker it intends to fire him as head football coach, for cause, the university announced Monday, in a swift and stunning fall from grace for a man who signed a 10-year, $95 million contract extension less than two years ago.
Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller released a statement Monday afternoon.
“I, with the support of administration and board, have provided Mel Tucker with written notice of intent to terminate his contract for cause. This notification process is required as part of his existing contract," Haller said in a university statement. "The notice provides Tucker with seven calendar days to respond and present reasons to me and the interim president as to why he should not be terminated for cause.
“This action does not conclude the ongoing Office for Civil Rights case; that rigorous process will continue.”
Being fired for cause would cost Tucker more than $80 million. A message sent to his attorney wasn't immediately returned Monday afternoon.
Michigan State said it plans no additional comment Monday, beyond Haller's statements. Weekly media availability, typically held Monday, will take place Tuesday.
The university initially suspended Tucker without pay Sept. 10, pending the results of a Title IX investigation over allegations of sexual misconduct.
A resolution hearing on those allegations still is set to be heard the week of Oct. 5, but Michigan State leadership decided to cut ties with Tucker now, signaling that even a positive outcome for Tucker in the hearing wasn't going to be enough to save his job. A clause in Tucker's contract extension said it could be voided if any of his actions were to cause embarrassment to the university.
Earlier this month, USA Today published allegations by Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault survivor and advocate who had befriended Tucker after being hired to speak to his players and other athletes on campus. Eventually, Tracy said, Tucker wanted more out of the friendship, and in one phone call between the two, he masturbated.
Tucker didn't deny he masturbated, but he has said the nature of the call and his actions were consensual. Tracy said they were not.
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