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Rutgers University has suspended head football coach Kyle Flood for three games and fined him $50,000 for improper contact with a professor regarding a player’s academic performance.
According to a the results of a school investigation, it was determined that Flood "had repeated contact (by email and an in-person meeting) with a faculty member" to discuss a player’s ineligibility as a result of his academic performance.
Flood also made an effort to have the professor allow for the player to complete an additional assignment that would allow the player to regain his eligibility.
The details of how Flood attempted to regain the player’s eligibility reads like a cloak-and-dagger novel. According to the findings, Flood:
- First contacted the professor through both of their personal email accounts and acknowledged that it was because he didn’t want the communication to ever be made public, saying, "I am sending it from my personal email to your personal email to ensure there will be no public vetting of the correspondence."
- Wrote "four additional emails to the professor" over a period of five days scheduling a meeting in an off-campus location, in front of the Princeton Public Library.
- Told the professor that he chose not to wear any Rutgers apparel to the meeting "so he wouldn’t be recognized in public."
- Made a telephone call to an academic advisor asking how a grade change happens. Flood told the advisor he had already emailed and would be meeting with the professor. When the advisor informed the coach that this is "a big problem" and that he cannot contact faculty regarding grades or eligibility, Flood responds, "this conversation stays between you and me."
- Assisted the athlete "with grammatical and punctuation changes in a paper the student submitted to the faculty member."
According to Flood, he was unaware that he was breaking any rules.
"I want to apologize for the mistake I made in process, in contacting that teacher," Flood wrote in a statement. "I understand now that that was against the rule, that I was unaware of at the time."
The investigation determined that Flood was "not familiar with the no-contact policy," and that he had not attended "any of the annual compliance training" which covers the policy.
Flood went on to acknowledge that he is "responsible to know these things."
University President Robert Barchi acknowledge that the school did consider firing Flood, in comments made to NJ Advanced Media.
"Any time there’s a transgression, [termination] is a possibility if it’s within the confines of a contract,” Barchi told NJ Advanced Media. "I think that everything was initially on the table, from no action at all to termination. I think it would be naive to say otherwise."
However, Barchi says the school ultimately decided the suspension is "appropriate to what we found" and that they "tailored the consequences to the actions.”
Flood will only be suspended from the team on game days. He will still work with the team at practices and during the week.
We have contacted Rutgers for comment.
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