The complainant in this case has identified herself to USA Today and provided details of the investigation into the complaint here.
Here are the basic details:
Coach Mel Tucker is currently under Title IX investigation for sexual misconduct involving a relationship with Brenda Tracy. Tracy is a well-known rape survivor who has recently worked with athletic departments, including Michigan State, to educate student athletes on the prevention of sexual violence.
Tracy filed a complaint with the University in December of 2022 regarding Tucker based on a video call that took place in April of 2022. In that call, Tucker allegedly engaged in “phone sex” which he contends was consensual and which Tracey states was not.
Michigan State hired an external Title IX attorney to investigate the claim. A formal hearing on the case is scheduled for Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 during the Spartans’ bye week.
COLUMN: Harns: Haller must act quickly and suspend Mel Tucker immediately.
ORIGINAL STORY 9/10/23 (prior to the publishing of the USA Today story):
Michigan State University is investigating football coach Mel Tucker for sexual harassment, sources have confirmed to Spartans Illustrated. A complainant has come forward but, per its policy, the university will not comment, or even confirm, the investigation until it is completed.
MSU prohibits relationship violence, sexual misconduct (including sexual harassment, sexual violence, and sexual exploitation), stalking, and retaliation under its Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Policy (RVSM and Title IX Policy). Anyone is able to file a report with MSU’s Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) and they independently investigate complaints of relationship violence and sexual misconduct.
Multiple sources have confirmed to Spartans Illustrated that, in this case, the complaint was made by someone who worked with Tucker in a professional capacity during his time at Michigan State. The complainant is not an employee of Michigan State and does not usually work on or near Michigan State’s East Lansing campus, Spartans Illustrated has learned.
Sources indicated to Spartans Illustrated that the complaint being investigated is harassment in nature. Spartans Illustrated has filed a FOIA and is awaiting a response. Sources tell Spartans Illustrated that Michigan State has replied to other FOIA requests by not confirming that an investigation is underway; there is no reason to think that MSU’s response to Spartans Illustrated’s FOIA will be any different.
The university intends to protect the confidentiality of the complainant, let the investigation wrap up and play through, and then make a decision on what discipline needs to occur, if any, after the OIE decision is made.
Spartans Illustrated has confirmed that “interim measures” have been put in place regarding this situation, but they are not necessarily visible. Obviously, the interim measures are not to the level of suspension, etc, as Tucker has continued coaching his team throughout the investigation. While every situation is different, interim measures are determined case by case, depending on the complaint and the particulars of it. The interim measures in this case are not visible given the nature of this complaint and where it came from.
Spartans Illustrated has learned there is a power dynamic financially and reporting, structure-wise, even though she’s not a member of the university staff. There is a professional connection between Tucker and the woman who filed the complaint.
The investigation into the matter will determine if the behavior violated Michigan State University’s RVSM policy.
Sources describe the university as being in a difficult spot because, if it moves too quickly, it can set itself up for a lawsuit for violating Tucker’s due process rights before the investigation is complete.
Spartans Illustrated has confirmed with sources that the complaint was filed in late 2022/early 2023 and has been under investigation since then. The university is following its standard investigation protocols, including gathering witness accounts and testimony, protecting the accused’s right to due process, and generally treating Tucker like any other employee would be treated.
In response to a Spartans Illustrated inquiry early Sunday morning, MSU spokesperson Emily Gerkin Guerrant would not confirm to Spartans Illustrated if an investigation into Tucker is underway but shared the following information, generally speaking, on how Michigan State handles situations like this:
“Confidentiality is important to the culture around reporting incidents – it’s crucial in creating a safe environment for individuals to come forward. Our commitment to our campus community and the public is to ensure that every complaint or concern brought forward is taken seriously and, when warranted, that a thorough investigation takes place. When investigations do happen, they need the ability to be conducted in a thorough and confidential manner.”
Spartans Illustrated will continue to cover this matter in the days and weeks ahead.
Discuss this article in our premium forums by clicking here.