Mel Tucker, Michigan State University, MSU

Coach Mark Dantonio Returns To Michigan State University Amid Mel Tucker Sexual Harassment Investigation

Mark Dantonio has agreed to come out of retirement to help Michigan State University (MSU) weather the storm of a sexual harassment investigation involving football head coach Mel Tucker.

Michigan State interim president Teresa Woodruff announced the former coach’s return during a press conference on September 10, ESPN reported. Dantonio’s tenure at the university began in 2007 and was marred by many allegations of sexual misconduct aimed at his players. At least 16 MSU athletes on the famed coach’s roster were accused of sexual assault or violence against women throughout his time at the helm of the football program.

Tucker—who replaced Dantonio in a historic decision that made him only the second Black man to hold the position in the university’s history—is facing allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances towards prominent rape survivor, Brenda Tracy.

According to USA Today, Tracy and Tucker joined forces to educate players about the various definitions of sexual assault in 2021; including, ironically, non-physical interactions. However, Tracy claims that Tucker made inappropriate comments about her during a phone call in 2022 while masturbating.

Tucker has denied all allegations, maintaining that their interaction was “completely consensual”, USA Today reported.

Dantonio’s presence on campus raises concerns about how the university plans to face yet another sexual harassment claim; as Michigan State’s athletic department was at the center of the highly publicized Larry Nassar case. Nassar is currently serving a 175-year sentence for his abuse of over 300 student athletes during his time as MSU’s athletic physician, ESPN reported.

A 2020 investigation into the university’s athletic department found that Dantonio had participated in coverups for players accused of sexual misconduct during his 13-year career. He was also accused of committing NCAA recruitment violations as well as ignoring warnings about a player he recruited who was eventually convicted of sexually assaulting a fellow MSU student. Dantonio was cleared of all wrongdoing; however, he made the decision to retire in early 2020.