Mel Tucker’s Suspension Is Just A Litigious Formality, So Who Replaces Him At Michigan State?
Michigan State has suspended head football coach Mel Tucker indefinitely without pay, pending the findings of an ongoing Title IX inquiry into allegations that he sexually harassed a rape survivor and activist he had contracted to speak to his program.
MSU interim president Teresa Woodruff and athletic director Alan Haller announced Tucker's suspension at a Sunday evening press conference less than 24 hours after USA Today published an extensive investigative story on the matter. Brenda Tracy went public with her allegations in the piece, claiming that Tucker made sexual comments and masturbated during a phone call with her.
Tucker admitted he masturbated while on the call with Tracy but disputed her claims of sexual misconduct, characterizing the incident as consensual phone sex, per records obtained by USA Today.
Tracy has worked for 25 years as an activist against sexual assault in college communities. She was brutally gang-raped by three Oregon State football players and a high school recruit a quarter-century ago. Now, she regularly speaks to college football and basketball programs about her experience and what players, coaches, and their programs can do to be part of the solution.
There's virtually no doubt that Michigan State will terminate Tucker following the hearing scheduled next month to formally review the Title IX investigation. MSU likely suspended Tucker instead of firing him outright to better position itself for future litigation over the nearly $80 million left on Tucker's contract. The 10-year, $95 million extension he signed with MSU in 2021 contains a moral turpitude clause, which is explicit language stipulating that the university could fire him for cause and avoid paying him the balance on his contract if he is found to have participated in "conduct which, in the University’s reasonable judgment, would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule on the University."
Could Michigan State simply use the approximately $80 million balance from the contract after Tucker is fired to hire a new coach? That, among other particulars about that money, remains to be seen.
But you can bet MSU will dismiss Tucker. You can also bet that the university will conduct a much longer and exhaustive search for its next football coach than the one it rushed through in February 2020 when it hired Tucker away from Colorado.
Who will be the next permanent head coach at Michigan State? There are sure to be plenty of candidates given MSU's status as a Big Ten school with competitive resources and facilities. And after the massive extension for Tucker in 2021, word is out that MSU is willing to pay top dollar for a football coach.
Still, there's no obvious frontrunner to take over in East Lansing.
Here's a list of some names that could be worth consideration.