Michigan State coach Mel Tucker has been suspended and his job status going forward is in doubt amid an ongoing university sexual harassment investigation, sources told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg and Pete Thamel on Sunday.
Secondary coach Harlon Barnett will lead the program on an interim basis, a source said.
An investigation into Tucker was launched months ago following a complaint by Brenda Tracy, a prominent sexual assault prevention advocate. Tracy claims Tucker sent her gifts, asked if she would date him if he wasn’t married and masturbated without her consent during a phone call, according to a USA Today report.
Any formal decision of Tucker’s job status, and the more than $77 million that remains on his contract, isn’t expected to be decided until a Title IX hearing that USA Today reported will begin on Oct. 5.
Tracy visited Michigan State in August 2021 and April 2022 to speak to the football team about preventing sexual misconduct, and she was named an honorary captain at the team’s spring football game during that April visit. After the game, Tracy said Tucker called her multiple times, asked her repeatedly to meet him alone and “even suggested slipping into her hotel through a back door so no one would see him,” according to the USA Today report.
Michigan State hired an outside Title IX attorney to investigate Tracy’s complaint, which was filed in December, according to the USA Today report. In a March letter to the investigator, Tucker called their relationship “mutually consensual and intimate,” according to USA Today. In statements to the investigator, Tucker acknowledged masturbating on the call but said the two had consensual phone sex, according to the report.
Tracy told the investigator that Tucker’s romantic interest was one-sided, according to the USA Today report.
Former Spartans coach Mark Dantonio will be helping Barnett with program leadership, according to a source. Michigan State is 2-0 this season after defeating Richmond on Saturday.
ESPN’s Dan Murphy contributed to this report.