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MSU’s Mel Tucker denies ongoing sexual harassment allegations

MEL TUCKER HAS BEEN SURROUNDED BY HEAVY CONTROVERSY this season. The MSU head coach has been accused of harassing and inappropriately contacting former 2022 MSU football program honorary captain Brenda Tracy. PHOTO courtesy of flickr

Content warning: This article discusses matters related to sexual assault and rape.

With college football in full swing, fans across the nation have been rallying for their team of choice come Saturday morning. This season is different though, as one of Michigan State University’s staple coaches is under fire and fans everywhere are furious.  

Mel Tucker — MSU head football coach who signed a 10-year, $95 million contract in 2021 — was fired on Wednesday, Sept. 27, amid rumors of sexual harassment allegations. 

Tucker is alleged to have had a 36-minute phone call with activist and rape survivor Brenda Tracy, in which he has been said to have harassed Tracy as well as masturbated over the phone with her without her consent on April 28, 2022. Tracy’s allegations were made public by USA Today last month.

The allegation comes after the pair had openly worked on educating the football team about sexual violence . On top of this, Tracy was also the honorary captain of the MSU spring football game in 2022, where she was welcomed with open arms by Tucker and his program. 

Tracy was raped in 1998 by a group of four football players and is an activist fighting to spread awareness and help with sexual assault prevention. She claims their relationship was one-sided and that they had decided to just be friends. 

“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 told USA Today in an interview. “It’s like he sought me out just to betray me.” 

Tucker denied the allegations in a statement, claiming the events were consensual and that the two had expressed mutual romantic interest. 

“While I am saddened by Ms. Tracy’s disclosure of the sensitive nature of this call, let me be perfectly clear — it was an entirely mutual, private event between two adults living at opposite ends of the country,” Tucker said in his statement. “She initiated the discussion that night, sent me a provocative picture of the two of us together, suggested what she may look like without clothes, and never once during the 36 minutes did she object in any manner, much less hang up the phone.”  

Many are considering this one of the biggest scandals in MSU history, but this isn’t the first time an MSU coach has been under fire. Just five years ago in 2018, Larry Nassar, the former U.S.A Gymnastics doctor, who was also a doctor at MSU, was sentenced to prison for up to 175 years in the state of Michigan for sexual assault of over 332 victims throughout his career at MSU. The university had to pay $500 million to the victims, settling a lawsuit that began with over 6,000 unreleased reports of sexual violence and assault. 

As for right now, the Big Ten and fans across the country are waiting for Tucker’s court hearing on Oct. 5, where his trial will start as investigators attempt to debunk what really happened back in April of 2022. 

Only time will tell what happens to Tucker, but with him fired from the University, interim head coach Harlon Barnett works not only to keep the team on track but also to restore the traditions such as the full-campus team walk just before entering the stadium.

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