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A Breakdown of Rutgers Football Coach Kyle Flood's Suspension

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After waiting for four weeks, we finally have a resolution in the Kyle Flood investigation regarding his alleged improper contact with a professor.  He was suspended today for 3 games by the University. It turns out it was much more than an email.  Flood arranged a meeting with the professor outside the Princeton Public Library on August 5th to discuss the status of Nadir Barnwell's grade.

Let's backtrack as to the origin of when this all essentially started.  The report findings in this investigation state that Flood was told by an academic advisor on May 20th that Barnwell was going to be academically ineligible for the fall season.  The report states that Barnwell continued to email the professor, asking to speak regarding his final exam. The professor then complained to the academic advisor that Barnwell had been "badgering" her to change his grade.

According to the report, Flood initially emailed the professor on July 26th, stating he supported the decision of the professor regarding Barnwell's grade.  He did ask if anything could be done and stated he told Barnwell not to expect any other opportunities with this class.  But here is a sentence from that email that shows Flood knew he was working around the policy and system in place:

The professor and Flood agreed to meet on August 5th.  On August 3rd, Flood called an academic adviser for counseling.  This is where is gets interesting, as Flood and the adviser did not give the same account of the call when questioned in this investigation.  The adviser stated they made it clear to Flood he could not contact a professor and that "this was going to be a big problem." Mind you the adviser stated Flood only said he emailed the professor, there was no mention of an arranged meeting.  Flood stated that he asked about the process for a grade to be changed.  A major difference in the conversation is that Flood stated to investigators that at no time did the adviser explain he could not contact the professor.  Flood did admit to investigators that the adviser had issue with the fact the grade was final and the student did not do a good job in the class, thus they did not deserve a change in grade.

The report transitions to the actual meeting of Flood and the professor.  Flood decided to go full Fletch mode, disguising himself by NOT wearing Rutgers gear.

The professor's account of the meeting was about the same as what Flood told investigators.  Flood asked if the Professor was open to giving the student a chance to improve his grade.  When the professor said she didn't know how to change a grade so long after it was final, Flood said the academic adviser said it could be changed by the professor in the computer, "so the professor had nothing to worry about." Oh boy, Kyle what in the hell are you thinking here? The professor did discuss a potential assignment for Barnwell and Flood asked she reach out to him directly.

The bottom line is based on their conversation, the professor "understood the intent of coach Flood reaching out to her was to get the student's grade changed."  The report states that while Flood did not speak in an intimidating manner, his position as head coach and role at the University "did have an intimidating effect."  The professor told investigators she felt "unable to resist the implied pressure" and "felt uncomfortable to not agreeing to an additional assignment to allow the student to become eligible."  Yuck.  I want to stop now.  But I can't.  There is more.

So Barnwell was given another assignment as the professor emailed him per Flood's request.  And then, the report indicates during the process of Barnwell completing this assignment, Flood sent him some edits.

OH BOY!!! Flood is now correcting and editing Barnwell's extra credit/special secret assignment.  There seems to be a discrepancy in how the editing was done, with Barnwell stating Flood verbally suggested some ideas.  However, the report includes an email from Flood to Barnwell stating "couple of edits - use this version."  Not very Fletch of you Kyle, they can track this stuff on email, which you knew when you emailed the professor from a personal account. Without belaboring the rest of this story, the professor contacted the academic adviser on August 25th stating the grade for Barnwell would not be changed.

In mid-August, the academic adviser who had the August 3rd phone call with Flood, spoke to another adviser, and in turn they contacted their direct supervisor, recognizing Flood's behavior was a potential violation of policy.  It went up the Rutgers food chain and thus led to the investigation.

The conclusion of the report is that Flood "knew or should have known, about this long standing University no-contact policy."  Flood's defense strategy was deny, deny, deny.  He stated he was unaware of the policy.  The investigation concluded at a minimum, based on Flood's conversation with the academic adviser on August 3rd, that he knew or should have known about the policy.  The fact that the adviser reported the conversation and based on all the findings in the investigation, they concluded the adviser's version was factual.

Now it seems crazy that Flood's actions did not constitute academic misconduct.   Essentially,  the investigation concluded that Flood helping Barnwell edit his paper was similar to assistance any student would receive for university learning centers, tutors or other university resources.  Ok, but it was incredibly brazen of him, although this entire episode showed Flood's arrogance and false sense of security based on his position.

I have been a Kyle Flood supporter since the day he took over for Greg Schiano.  I liked his confidence, the way he presented himself and spoke publicly, and he was the ultimate underdog.  A lifetime offensive line coach and former teacher, who was given a tremendous opportunity.  He seemed to be respected by virtually everyone, from players to coaches to school officials.  This was someone worth rooting for, believing in.  And after the events uncovered in this investigation, I realize that Flood is not the right man for the job, at least anymore.

I do believe Flood is inherently good and ultimately, a well intentioned man.  However, he made one major mistake, which was rolled up in several actions that he knew was against policy and borderline unethical.  Why else did he originally contact the professor from a personal account and ask to keep their contact between them? Flood let power corrupt him.  It's happened to many good men before him, and it will happen to many more after him.  But it happened, and it's a terribly sad day.  These actions described in the report are beneath him, at least in relation to the strong character and integrity he has previously shown.  I know there are people out there who question whether Flood is a good football coach.  However, Flood represented this university with class and dignity for the past four years.  He isn't the second coming to Bill Belichick, but Flood showed he was learning and growing into his role, and becoming a better coach.  After last season, he had the potential to keep improving this program and lead it to it's finest hour.

Instead, the power corrupted him and he acted above it all, leading to our darkest hour in program history.  He forgot what got him there.  It's tragic and a human flaw.  I am honestly shocked, after reading this report, that Flood is still employed as the head coach of Rutgers Football.  I hate to say it, but it's only a matter of time until he is no longer the leader of our football team.  All we can do for now is support the players and coaches that remain, that have done the right thing and represented our university the way we hoped they would.  Sadly, Flood will not be a part of that team, but ultimately he doesn't deserve to be.

Whether you agree or not that the actions of Flood's players should make him responsible for them, he now has one major strike against him.  The walls are closing in fast on Flood.  Hopefully, we can all take solace in the performance of this team on the field.  Because it is going to be an ugly, painful fall off the field.  The downfall has just begun.