Mel Tucker hearing proceeds despite former coach's absence
A Thursday morning statement from an attorney for Mel Tucker indicated the former Michigan State University football coach would not attend a hearing scheduled to begin Thursday afternoon over allegations that he sexually harassed a woman he invited to speak to the MSU football team.
The two-day virtual hearing is to examine whether Tucker violated the school’s sexual misconduct policy in his communication with Brenda Tracy, whom Tucker brought to the school to discuss the problem of sexual misconduct in sports.
Tucker's lead attorney Jennifer Belveal released a statement Thursday morning addressed to the MSU Board of Trustees and Interim President Teresa Woodruff, stating, "Under Office of Institutional Equity ('OIE') rules, we are prohibited from participating in the hearing scheduled for October 5 and 6, 2023, because Mr. Tucker is not available due to a serious medical condition."
According to Elizabeth Abdnour, a Lansing area civil rights attorney who specializes in Title IX, the hearing will likely continue whether or not Tucker is in attendance. She told WKAR the university's resolution officer will review the entire investigative report, and all of the evidence and information that's been collected, including any new evidence provided by either party.
The officer is charged with making a determination as to whether she believes that it's more likely than not that Tucker violated MSU's relationship violence and sexual misconduct policy.
Tracy alleges Tucker tried to pursue her romantically and that he masturbated during a phone call in April of 2022. Tucker claims the interaction was consensual.
Tucker's attorney said she has received approximately 20,000 new communications or documents comprising evidence which "completely contradicts Ms. Tracy’s claims."
The Thursday morning statement from Belveal was accompanied by nearly 100 pages of heavily redacted messages purportedly between Tracy and her close friend Ahlan Alvarado, who has since died.
Belveal said the messages contradict Tracy's statements to MSU's investigator, and that Tracy "manipulated MSU for her own financial gain."
Representatives for Tracy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tucker was in the third year of a $95 million, 10-year contract when he was fired for cause by MSU. The move means the school does not have to pay him what's remaining on his deal.
Tucker has called MSU’s decision to terminate his contract a “miscarriage of justice.”
MSU Interim President Woodruff says action to suspend Tucker was "necessary" and "not taken lightly."