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Rutgers Investigates Football Coach for Contacting PT Faculty Member About Player’s Eligibility

by Graham Watson

Rutgers coach Rutgers University coach Kyle Flood. | AP Photo Mel Evans is the subject of a university investigation regarding impermissible contact with a part-time faculty member in the university’s Mason Gross School of Arts.

According to a report from NJ.com, Flood used his personal email to contact a faculty member regarding the status of defensive back Nadir Barnwell. Barnwell has been dealing with academic eligibility issues this offseason and Flood has said on two separate occasions, the last being on the eve of training camp in early August, that Barnwell’s academic status is still up in the air.

NJ.com was not able to obtain the contents of the email, but those contents would determine the severity of Flood’s punishment. If he’s found to have tried to influence a faculty member in an attempt to retain Barnwell’s good academic standing, Flood could face a public reprimand, suspension or termination from his contract.

According NJ.com sources, Rutgers’ athletics compliance department does not allow coaches to directly contact faculty members. All communication must come from an academic support member.

Any contact between a coach and a faculty member regarding the status of a student-athlete is subject to Big Ten and NCAA review.

A person familiar with the Rutgers situation told NJ Advance Media the investigation is focused on not only the contents of the alleged email, but the intent if Flood is found to have sent the written correspondence to Barnwell’s professor.

“Is it inappropriate to say, ‘Hey, what’s Nadir Barnwell’s status?’ Maybe, but is it impermissible? I don’t know that,” one of the top university officials involved in the investigation said. “Is there a gray area in this? It may be (justified as), ‘It’s stupid but it’s understandable.’”

Flood spoke to reporters ahead of Tuesday’s practice, stating he was disappointed in the report.

“Let me start by saying I’m disappointed at the tone of the article that (media relations officer) Hasim (Phillips) showed me this morning,” Flood told reporters before practice. “I’ve been the head coach now this is going into my fourth season and I’ve had a lot of interaction with the teachers on our campus.

“I think that that article not only insults my integrity but it insults the integrity of our faculty. I’ve come to realize that our faculty here at Rutgers is beyond reproach and I have a tremendous amount of respect for them. Our faculty are a part of our program. Just as recently as the other day, we had two faculty members at our practice.

“Any correspondence that I had with a professor in regards to a student-athlete would really be of this nature. One, to be in support of whatever decision that faculty member made. And two, to inquire as to whether or not there would be an opportunity to earn a better grade. This practice is not unusual at Rutgers. Many students all over campus receiver what are called “T grades” — doing work outside of when the class ends that semester to earn a better grade.”

Barnwell, a junior, has been practicing with Rutgers during fall camp. He’s appeared in 22 games in two seasons and has 10 starts. He’s considered the anchor of a young and inexperienced defensive secondary.

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