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Michigan State intends to fire Mel Tucker over sexual harassment charge

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(CBS) -- Michigan State intends to fire football coach Mel Tucker, who has been accused of sexually harassing a woman hired to work to educate players about sexual misconduct. 

Michigan State athletic director Allan Haller wrote a letter to Tucker stating that the university planned to terminate his contract for cause. Under provisions in the agreement, Tucker has seven days to respond.

'Undisputed Evidence'

"The university has become aware of various facts that have led to the unfortunate decision to terminate your employment for cause," according to the letter. "At this point, the university has amassed a body of undisputed evidence of misconduct that warrants termination for cause."

The letter references the hiring of Brenda Tracy in July 2021 to educate the team to prevent and reduce instances of sexual misconduct.

"Your admitted actions have brought public disrespect, contempt and ridicule upon the university," the letter stated.

The third-year head coach is accused of sexually harassing Tracy, an activist and rape survivor, during a phone call last year. Less than 24 hours after the allegations were made public in a USA Today report, the MSU announced that Tucker was suspended.  

Haller said in a statement, "This notification process is required as part of his existing contract. The notice provides Tucker with seven calendar days to respond and present reasons … as to why he should not be terminated for cause."

Tucker's $95 million deal

Tucker is in the third year of a $95 million, 10-year contract, and if he is fired for cause, the school would not have to pay him what's remaining on his deal.  

Tucker is the second Big Ten football coach at the center of a scandal in three months.

Second Big Ten scandal this year

Northwestern fired longtime coach Pat Fitzgerald in July after an investigation by the school revealed hazing in the football program. Fitzgerald was initially suspended for two weeks during the preseason by the school. Still, Northwestern's president decided later to dismiss him with cause after details of the hazing allegations became public through media reports.

Tracy became friends with Tucker over her advocacy work, but that relationship took a turn in April 2022 when Tucker masturbated during a phone call with her, according to USA Today.

Tucker has denied Tracy's allegations, calling them "completely false."  

The university letter called Tucker's actions--engaging in an extra-marital relationship with a university vendor --"especially egregious" considering Tracy's role with the football team. 

Tucker was hired as the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator in 2013 by Marc Trestman, and he was let go two years later after Trestman was fired. 

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