Sports

RU Responds to NCAA Allegations of Foul Play in Athletics Department

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Following an 18-month investigation, the NCAA has issued a notice of allegations to Rutgers University, formally claiming seven wrongdoings by the school and its athletics department.

The laundry list of possible violations includes everything from special considerations for student-athletes in the classroom under former head football coach Kyle Flood and a flawed drug-testing program to improper recruiting methods and a systemic failure by Rutgers to monitor a portion of its athletics program. The allegations stem from the 2011-12 academic year through fall 2015.

Rutgers President Robert Barchi subsequently published an open letter to the university and media today, driving home the school’s cooperation with the investigation and commitment to ethics on and off the playing field.

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“Despite my disappointment over these allegations, I believe we are a stronger University because of our immediate and transparent response to them, and you have my word that we will continue to strive for excellence with integrity,” Barchi wrote.

The list of charges partially stem from an incident in which Flood attempted to sway a professor to give a football player additional assignments, in the hope that he would receive a higher grade. The football player is former cornerback Nadir Barnwell, according to NJ.com, and the alleged infraction occurred in the 2014-15 academic year.

Under NCAA rules, this allegation represents a “significant breach of conduct,” one of the league’s more serious violations.

After the allegations initially came to light, Flood was fined $50,000 by the university, suspended and ultimately fired.

Flood has also been charged with failing to promote “an atmosphere for compliance” or monitor football program staffers, according to the NCAA notice. The university faces the same sweeping allegation.

Another allegation claims Flood knew 16 football players had tested positive for banned substances but still allowed them to compete. The complaint alleges that those students never faced any disciplinary measures from Rutgers.

Robert Monaco, who oversaw the drug-testing program, allegedly failed to notify higher-ups of positive hits. He also didn’t seek advice to determine penalties and, along with Flood and Rutgers, failed to put players through a mandatory treatment regimen, according to the complaint.

Flood also oversaw a football program that allegedly hired student-ambassadors to show prospective players around the campus, in a manner that was “contrary to NCAA legislation,” according to the notice. This, along with a lack of oversight, “led to instances of impermissible off-campus recruiting contacts” and off-limits electronic correspondence by two student-ambassadors and the former director of recruiting, according to the document.

Possible violations occurred when football program staffers publicized at least 19 potential recruits’ visits to the school. Student-ambassadors may also have broken NCAA rules by accompanying and discussing the program with prospects around campus, in Times Square and during pre- and post-game activities, according to the notice.

Rutgers has taken steps to overhaul the football program, according to Barchi’s letter. In November 2015, the school hired Pat Hobbs as its athletics director, replacing the embattled former department head, Julie Hermann.

Head football coach Chris Ash has taken the reins of the Scarlet Knights from Kyle Flood. Other individuals named in the complaint have also been replaced or fired.

Barchi said the university has also brought in administrators and programs to focus on ethics. Plus, the athletics department is taking a more hands-on approach to teaching its student-athletes, coaches and staff members about NCAA regulations.

Rutgers has 90 days to formally respond to the notice of allegations. Afterward, the NCAA enforcement committee will respond to the school but “shall not include new allegations,” according to association protocol.

Then there will be a hearing, a decision and a possible appeal, a process that Rutgers believes will continue “well into 2017,” according to Barchi’s letter.

“We will continue to identify areas in which we can improve and implement new policies or procedures, if warranted,” Barchi wrote. “Rutgers is a proud member of the NCAA and of the Big Ten Conference and we must act in good faith and with the utmost integrity in our Department of Athletics.”

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