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Rutgers coach denies he contacted prof over player grade

Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood is denying that he made illegal contact with a faculty member.Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood is denying that he made illegal contact with a faculty member.

Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood is denying a report that he had impermissible contact with a faculty member over a player’s grade.

Flood called the story by NJ.com “insulting” after the New Jersey newspaper reported that the Scarlet Knights coach could be facing suspension — or be fired — because he made contact with a faculty member on behalf of a player who was in danger of being ruled academically ineligible.

The player in question is junior cornerback Nadir Barnwell, according to the report, whom Flood said is eligible for practice.

“Let me start by saying I’m disappointed at the tone of the article that (associate athletic director for football relations) Hasim (Phillips) showed me this morning,” Flood said in a statement released by Rutgers. “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.

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“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.”

NJ.com reported that the university is investigating the contact as a possible NCAA rules violation. After practice, Flood said that nobody told him there was an ongoing investigation, but that he would “cooperate with any process the university has.”

“Other than that, just refer to my statement,” Flood said. “I want to be respectful to whatever process the university has.”

Rutgers issued their own statement as well:

“We can confirm that the Rutgers University Office of Ethics and Compliance initiated an investigation with the assistance of outside consul when this matter was first brought to our attention a little more than a week ago,” the statement read. “We will have no further comment until the investigation is concluded.”

The probe is centered around an email Flood sent from a personal account to a faculty member regarding the status of Barnwell, the newspaper reported.

A Rutgers official who spoke to NJ Advance Media for the story said that the athletic department’s compliance office prohibits coaches from communicating with professors. The official said only a member of the academic support team is allowed to talk to a professor about a student-athlete.

Yet Flood told reporters after practice that he is consistently in touch with professors.

“Let me just say this, again, without getting in the way of the university’s process: I have a lot of communication with teachers,” Flood said. “I teach classes on campus. I was a member of a faculty for four years. So to me, I don’t know why you would want to have a separation of church and state. We’re all part of the same university (and) we all want the same things for our student athletes.”

In a separate headache, Flood told reporters that five players, including wide receiver and captain Leonte Carroo, quarterback Chris Laviano and three others would be suspended for the first half of their season opener after a curfew violation. Flood said that Laviano, 20, also used a fake ID. 

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