Kyle Flood, the head football coach at Rutgers, told school officials investigating allegations that he tried to get a player’s grade changed that he was unaware of rules prohibiting him from contacting academic advisers in such a way, nor, he said, had he attended any of the compliance training that would have made him aware of those rules. The president of Rutgers, taking a dim view of Flood’s words and deeds, suspended the coach for team’s next three games and fined him $50,000.
President Robert Barchi announced his punishments Wednesday, saying in a open letter that Flood “circumvented established policies and procedures in contacting a faculty member to discuss the academic standing of a student-athlete.” Barchi added, “Coach Flood’s actions in communicating with the faculty member crossed a line that all faculty hold dear.”
At issue was Flood’s efforts to get a grade retroactively changed for a player, identified in multiple media outlets as junior defensive back Nadir Barnwell, who had become academically ineligible for the 2015 season. In the full report of Rutgers’ investigation into the matter, these details emerged:
- A professor emailed an academic adviser, complaining that Barnwell was “badgering” him to change the grade.
- Flood sent the professor an email from his personal Gmail account “to ensure there will be no public vetting of the correspondence.” Flood wrote, “If there was any work that could be done to earn a grade change I wold be willing to have it done during football hours.”
- The professor expressed doubt that a grade could be changed over two months after it had been posted, but wrote, “Let me know how you wish me to proceed.”
- Flood then sent the professor several emails setting up a face-to-face meeting at a public library in Princeton, at which “Coach Flood told the Professor that he purposely didn’t wear any Rutgers’ apparel or insignia so he wouldn’t be recognized in public, meeting with the Professor.”
Prior to the meeting with the professor, Flood had this exchange with an academic adviser, according to that person’s statements to investigating officials.
The professor felt intimidated by Flood and pressured to go into the school’s computer system to retroactively change Barnwell’s grade, according to Rutgers officials. It was revealed in the report that the coach helped Barnwell draft a letter to the professor expressing gratitiude for “the opportunity to earn a better grade in your class,” and he helped edit the paper Barnwell wrote.
Ultimately, Barnwell’s grade was not changed, and Flood’s contacts with academic staff members was reported to the school’s Athletic Academic Oversight Committee. An investigation was launched in August, which included interviews with academic staff members, Flood and Barnwell.
From the report:
In his open letter, Barchi wrote: “Coach Flood is specifically tasked with knowing both NCAA and our institutional policies regarding these issues. Simply, Coach Flood has no excuse for not knowing the rule and following it.”
Flood will miss a road game at Penn State and home games against Kansas and Michigan State. The coach released this statement Wednesday (via ESPN):
“I take full responsibility and accept the consequences of my actions. I care deeply about my student-athlete’s academic performance.
“As the head coach, when I recruit players, my responsibility to them and their families is to do all I can to make sure they leave Rutgers with a degree and are prepared for a successful life off the football field.”
The suspension is the latest development in a troubling series for the Rutgers football program. From a report by NJ.com:
Six players have been kicked off the team in the past two weeks as the result of arrests. Two players, cornerback Dre Boggs and fullback Lloyd Terry, have been charged in home invasions. The other four players — Barnwell, cornerback Ruhann Peele, safety Delon Stephenson and fullback Razohnn Gross — face assault charges.
On Sunday, Flood suspended star wide receiver Leonte Carroo indefinitely as a result of an incident that took place following Saturday night’s loss to Washington State outside the team’s football headquarters. Carroo was arrested by Rutgers University police and charged with simple assault in a domestic violence incident. Carroo pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
Flood was an assistant coach at Rutgers who got the top job after Greg Schiano left to become head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Including a 1-1 record so far this season, he has gone 24-17, and he guided the program to an 8-5 record last season, its first in the Big Ten.