Tucker has since claimed that M.S.U.’s decision to terminate his employment was motivated by “other factors” beyond sexual harassment claims, including–potentially–financial considerations.
Former Michigan State University football coach Mel Tucker has said that he is preparing to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer.
According to ESPN, Tucker’s attorney recently sent a letter to M.S.U.’s general counsel. The letter requested that the university maintain electronic and paper records for all members of its athletic department “in anticipation of litigation.”
“Records may include information, or data recorded or conveyed through physical or electronic means, which may exist in any location and in any form, including as a hard copy, electronic or physical data,” the letter says. “Potentially relevant Records include, but are not limited to, messages, including, but not limited to, instant messages and text messages, e-mails, word-processing documents, presentations, spreadsheets, memoranda, notes, all kinds of media, telephone logs, voicemails, databases, and drafts.”
Letters of spoliation are common in pre-litigation, largely because they pre-empt probable defendants from legally disposing of relevant evidence.
Michigan State, adds ESPN, fired Tucker for cause on Wednesday, about a month after sexual abuse prevention advocate Brenda Tracy accused Tucker of sexually harassing her.
Alan Haller, the school’s current athletic director, has since said that Tucker’s termination was justifiable, because his “admitted and undisputed behaviors […] brough public disrespect, contempt and ridicule upon the university; and constitute a material breach of his agreement, and moral turpitude.”
Tucker, writes CBS Sports, was initially suspended without pay on September 10 after Tracy said that Tucker had harassed her,
While Tucker admitted to having a personal relationship with Tracy, he said that her claims of “unwelcome sexual comments and acts” were without merit, and that any relations between the two had been entirely consensual.
Despite Tucker’s insistence, M.S.U.—which is still recovering from the Larry Nassar scandal—quickly removed the coach, replacing him with Haller.
Tucker has said that he “disappointed but not surprised” by his firing. He has also suggested that Michigan State may have had ulterior motives, saying that “a cursory reading of the facts and timeline should cause any fair-minded person to conclude that other motives are at play.”
“Let’s be clear, I don’t’ believe M.S.U. plans to fire me because I admitted to an entirely consensual, private relationship with another adult who gave one presentation at M.S.U., at my behest, over two years,” Tucker said in the statement.
In either case, if M.S.U.’s position is upheld, it would not be liable to pay Tucker any of the $79 million in compensation remaining on his contract.
Tucker’s attorney, Jennifer Belveal, says that Michigan State University’s actions meet the definition of “illegal termination.”
M.S.U. conversely claims that, when asked about the allegations, Tucker was unable to provide any adequate reason as to why he should not be terminated.