Mel Tucker Suspended Without Pay At Michigan State Amid Scandal

    Mel Tucker has been suspended from Michigan State amid sexual harassment accusations, Harlon Barnett will serve as acting head coach for the Spartans.

    The Michigan State Spartans continue to make news the wrong way as head coach Mel Tucker has come into the public light amid a sexual harassment scandal.

    Despite conflicting reports, including Tucker being fired by Brett McMurphy of Action Network and just a suspension with pay by The Athletic, Tucker’s status as the Michigan State head coach for the short term was made public on Sunday.

    Mel Tucker Officially Suspended Without Pay From Michigan State

    [Editor’s Note: This story is developing, and new information will be released when we at College Football Network obtain it.]

    Though catching some off guard, the news of Tucker’s suspension should not come as a shock, following a breaking story on Saturday night.

    Tucker, whose Michigan State team defeated Richmond on Saturday, was subject to an investigation into claims of sexual harassment on prominent figure and rape survivor, Brenda Tracy. The Spartans, led by Tucker, had hosted Tracy on campus thrice, including honoring her as an honorary captain in April of 2022, at the 2022 Spring Game.

    However, despite their close relationship, Tucker and Tracy’s relationship came to an abrupt halt that same month when Tracy accused Tucker of making sexual comments about her (and more) on the phone.

    While Tucker denied the claims of abuse, stating there was a consensual nature around the relationship and phone call, he did not deny engaging in the explicit phone conversation.

    “I am not proud of my judgement, and I am having difficult forgiving myself for getting into this situation, but I did not engage in misconduct by any definition,” Tucker said of the claims.

    Tracy, however, saw it much differently and filed a complaint with Michigan State’s Title IX office last December. Michigan State hired an outside Title IX attorney to further investigate the claims, and those findings were finished in July of 2023, eight months after Tracy made the original complaint.

    The USA Today originally broke the news, citing the fact that they typically will not reveal the identities of those who allege sexual harassment, but Tracy agreed to be identified and even shared 1,000s of pages of case documents.

    Michigan State interim president Teresa K. Woodruff and athletic director Alan Haller called for a 5 p.m. ET news conference to provide an “update on the football program.”

    On the scheduled conference, Haller officially announced that Tucker would be suspended.

    “I am suspending Mel Tucker wihout pay,” Haller said. “A formal hearing will occur the week of October 5th.”

    That update on the program called a race to arms for breaking news as conflicting reports surfaced on Sunday. McMurphy stated Tucker had been fired, while Nicole Auerbach stated he had not. Instead, Auerbach cited the Detroit Free Press that said Tucker was suspended with pay, pending an October hearing.

    Ultimately, we’ll get our answer to Tucker’s long-term status with the program next month.

    The Spartans, as a university, are still reeling from failing to act on complaints against the now-disgraced Larry Nassar, a former US Gymnastics and campus physician.

    Acting quickly to move on from Tucker would be in the best interest of the university and the football program, as they would have sent a message that they’re officially committed to making progress against such acts.

    Tucker originally signed a 10-year contract extension with the university, pushing his annual earnings to $9.5 million per season. Former university president Samuel L. Stanley Jr. led the charge in the extension.

    The contract extension did have a clause written in that would pay Tucker $76 million had he been fired without cause, but such was not the case on Sunday.

    Harlon Barnett to Act As Interim Coach, Mark Dantonio Returns

    With the news of Tucker’s removal making waves, in comes a new coach until there is certainty regarding the long-term situation of the position.

    It was stated that Harlon Barnett would be promoted to acting head coach after he was appointed to coach the secondary under Tucker in 2020.

    This is Barnett’s second tenure with the Spartans as the long-time Michigan State coach. He has now served as the defensive backs coach (2007-2014), assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator (2015-2017), secondary (2020-2023), and interim head coach (2023-present).

    Previously, Barnett had coaching stops at Florida State as the defensive coordinator under Willie Taggart in 2018-19, and a successful first gig as defensive backs coach at Cincinnati in 2004-06, under Dantonio.

    With the removal of Tucker and Barnett’s appointment to his first head coaching job, the Spartans also asked former head coach Mark Dantonio to return to the sidelines. Dantonio will serve as associate head coach with the team moving forward.

    Serving as the Spartans head coach from 2007-2019, Dantonio won three Big Ten titles with Michigan State and was twice named the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

    Dantonio, 67, had previously retired after winning 114 games at the helm of the Spartans.

    College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    Never miss a beat with the CFN-exclusive College Football Transfer Portal Tracker, listing the student-athletes entering and exiting the transfer portal.

    Related Articles