Education

Rutgers Suspends Coach Kyle Flood For Three Games, Fines Him $50K For Faculty Contact

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Rutgers Head Football Coach Kyle Flood. Credits: Ed Birch
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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Rutgers Head Football Coach Kyle Flood will sit out the Scarlet Knights next three games and pay a $50,000 fine for “inappropriately” contacting a professor about one of his players performance in a course, university officials said today.

“I believe that the discipline is severe and justified for his failure to follow policy,” University President Dr. Robert Barchi said in a statement Wednesday. “I met with Coach Flood this afternoon and informed him of the suspension and the fine and he has accepted responsibility for his actions and my discipline.”

Barchi’s statement included the release of a campus investigation report into accusations that Flood contacted a professor to increase the academic standing of one of his players by submitting an additional paper after the course was completed.

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While names of the professor and student were redacted, Flood has admitted in prior press conferences that the intervention was made on behalf of Nadir Barnwell, 20, of Piscataway.

Barnwell was recently dismissed from the football program after being arrested for allegedly assaulting a group of students with other football players, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

A 19-year-old student suffered a broken jaw during the melee, according to police.

Flood, who previously expressed his “disappointment” for going to bat for Barnwell, accepted his “discipline,” and took personal responsibility for the incident, according to Barchi’s statement.

"I take full responsibility and accept the consequences of my actions. I care deeply about my student-athlete’s academic performance," Flood said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "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."

According to a summary of the report, Flood used a personal email account to contact Barnwell’s professor for a spring semester course to see if she could help Barnwell get a better grade by submitting a paper even though the course had ended.

Even after being told to stay clear of the situation by the athletic support office, which handles interactions between coaches and faculty for the players, Flood continued to contact the professor and even had a personal meeting with her, according to the report.

The extra paper was submitted with some editorial guidance from Flood, the report said, but the grade was never changed.

The report said that the editorial changes Flood helped Barnwell make were no different that the academic support staff would have suggested.

“As a member of the faculty and as a former Provost myself, I know that Coach Flood’s actions in communicating with the faculty member crossed a line that all faculty hold dear.  Our faculty must have complete independence in executing their duties and there is a reason why we prohibit athletics coaching staff from discussing the academic standing of students with faculty,” Barchi said. “We have policies in place to protect academic integrity and to ensure that any faculty member, whether tenured or untenured, whether full-time or part-time, is free of intimidation and interference by outside parties.”

Barchi said that the matter is also being looked at by the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) to see if any of its by-laws were broken.

This is but the latest chink in the Scarlet Knights football program’s armor that has some calling for Flood to be fired.

A rash of eight current and former players, including Barnwell, are under arrest for some alleged serious criminal acts including home invasions on the campus that stole cash and drugs from other students.

Barchi said that the school would increase training to make sure coaches and faculty know the clear communication boundaries going forward.

“We have high expectations of every member of our community and no one is free from responsibility,” Barchi said. “We must use this opportunity to grow, to do more and to do better.  And we will.”

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