(Photo credit: Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK)
Michigan State fired football coach Mel Tucker on Wednesday, sending him a letter that stated his actions with a female contractor left the university "subject to public disrespect and ridicule."
The school gave Tucker written notice last week that it planned to terminate his contract for cause.
Tucker was suspended without pay on Sept. 10 following a months-long investigation into sexual harassment allegations.
Tucker, whose attorneys have called the university's findings "flimsy," was hired in February 2020.
Michigan State's investigation alleged that Tucker, 51, sexually harassed Brenda Tracy, a sexual assault survivor and awareness speaker, during what she has characterized as unwanted phone sex in April 2022.
While Field Level Media's policy is not to name alleged victims of sexual harassment or assault, Tracy agreed to be identified in a USA Today interview and provided hundreds of pages of documentation.
According to Tucker's attorneys, Tucker and Tracy had "an entirely mutual, private event between two adults living at opposite ends of the country" and Tucker has said the investigation contained "an ulterior motive designed to terminate my contract."
The termination letter, signed by athletic director Alan Haller, said Tucker's 25-page response to the allegations did "not provide any information that refutes or undermines the multiple grounds for termination for cause set forth" in the notice to terminate. Instead, Haller said the response "provides a litany of excuses for your inappropriate behavior while expressly admitting to the problematic conduct outlined" in the notice.
Tucker, the 2021 Big Ten Coach of the Year, guided the Spartans to a 20-14 record, including a 2-0 start this season.
Tucker was one of the highest-paid coaches in college football, signing a 10-year, $95 million contract before the 2022 season. The contract would have been fully guaranteed had the school fired Tucker for performance.
However, it contains a clause that allows Michigan State to fire him, without payment, if he engages in "conduct which, in the University's reasonable judgment, would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule on the University," according to USA Today.
The Spartans (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) have lost both games since defensive backs coach Harlon Barnett took over as their interim head coach. They play at Iowa on Saturday.
--Field Level Media