Former Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker informed university officials on Thursday that he and his legal team are preparing to potentially sue the school. The move comes one day after Michigan State fired Tucker for cause amid an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him.
Tucker’s attorney, Jennifer Belveal, sent a letter to Michigan State’s general counsel requesting that the school preserve electronic and paper records for all members of the athletic department and other university officials, including President Teresa K. Woodruff and each member of the MSU Board of Trustees, “in anticipation of litigation.”
In the letter, Belveal referred to Tucker’s ouster as an “illegal termination of Mel Tucker’s contract.” Michigan State’s move and the subsequent public responses from Tucker and his lawyers now likely set the stage for a legal battle over the remaining money on his contract — which is upward of $70 million.
The university cited Tucker’s “admitted and undisputed behaviors which have brought public disrespect, contempt and ridicule upon the university” as one of the reasons for his termination. Michigan State has stated that it fired Tucker for cause because his behavior constituted “a material breach of his agreement, and moral turpitude.”
Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller told Tucker in a letter last week that he has violated the terms of his contract regardless of the outcome of his pending university sexual harassment hearing — scheduled for next week — in part because he admitted to having a sexual encounter with a woman who was hired by the university as a vendor. Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor and activist who had been contracted to work with the football team, is the woman who filed the initial complaint against Tucker that triggered the university’s investigation.
Tucker has stated that he believes his relationship with Tracy was consensual, personal and should not be subject to university investigation.
(Photo: Mike Mulholland / Getty Images)