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Editor's note: Initial reports suggested Mel Tucker was fired, but the official statement made by Michigan State University is that he is currently suspended without pay. The headline for the article has been changed to reflect this.
Michigan State University has fired head coach Mel Tucker following accusations that he had nonconsensual phone sex with a rape survivor.
The name of the alleged victim is Brenda Tracy, who claims Tucker invited her to speak to student athletes about her experience being raped by three Oregon State University players and a high school recruit 25 years ago.
Tracy and the non-profit organization she runs, Set the Expectation, has been invited to campus three times to speak with the MSU football team and be recognized for her advocacy work. She has apparently given talks to thousands of players, across more than 100 college campuses across the country.
It was during this time that she developed a friendship with Tucker. She claims that during a phone call which took place on April 28, 2022, Tucker had phone sex. She said it was not consensual and subsequently filed a complaint with the school in December 2022.
However, Tucker disputed the way Tracy characterized the situation to a Title IX investigator.
“The idea that someone could know me and say they understand my trauma but then re-inflict that trauma on me is so disgusting to me, it’s hard for me to even wrap my mind around it,” Tracy said.
“It’s like he sought me out just to betray me.”
Tracy also suggested that during the time the two were working together, Tucker called her frequently, sent her gifts, and even asked her if she would date him if he were not married. Tucker is married and has two sons, per the report.
She also said that Tucker apparently asked her to meet him alone and that he "even suggested slipping into her hotel through a back door so no one would see him," the USA Today report said.
Tucker declined to speak about the situation to a USA Today reporter. However, he wrote in a March letter to a Title IX investigator that "Ms. Tracy's distortion of our mutually consensual and intimate relationship into allegations of sexual exploitation has really affected me."
“I am not proud of my judgment and I am having difficulty forgiving myself for getting into this situation, but I did not engage in misconduct by any definition,” Tucker said.
MSU published a statement saying that it does not comment on potential investigations.
“Let me assure you that if any complaint came forward regarding a violation of the university’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy, it would be thoroughly reviewed and followed up on by MSU’s Office for Civil Rights. Confidentiality is important to the culture around reporting incidents – it’s crucial in creating a safe environment for individuals to come forward,” Emily Guerrant, Michigan State University's spokesperson, said.
“Our commitment to our campus community and the public is to ensure that every complaint or concern brought forward is taken seriously and, when warranted, that a thorough investigation takes place. When investigations do happen, they need the ability to be conducted in a thorough and confidential manner.”
MSU is set to have a formal hearing for October 5 and 6 during the football team's bye week.
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