Dear Members of the Rutgers Community:
Since our University was established almost 250 years ago, Rutgers has grown to become the State of New Jersey's premier public institution of higher learning. With that designation, we have an obligation to provide outstanding educational opportunities, to ensure high quality and productive research, to serve the local, national and world communities, and to do so with integrity and a steadfast commitment to the central academic mission of our university. It is in this context that I provide you with the following report.
As some of you may be aware, the University has been reviewing an allegation that the Head Football Coach at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Kyle Flood, circumvented established policies and procedures in contacting a faculty member to discuss the academic standing of a student-athlete. This allegation was first reported to the University on August 12th and within 24 hours, after consultations with our Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, with our Interim Senior Vice President & General Counsel and with the Interim Senior Vice President for Enterprise Risk Management, Ethics and Compliance, the University retained an outside investigator and counsel and undertook an investigation of the charge.
Yesterday, I received the final investigative report and I have decided to release the report, with limited redactions required by privacy laws, as I want the University community to understand both what we now know and the thorough nature of the investigation. The report is available at http://president.rutgers.edu/files/Final-Report.pdf.
Below is a brief summary of some of the major findings:
- Coach Flood knew or should have known of well-established University policies prohibiting coach-initiated contact between coaches and members of the faculty regarding a student-athlete's academic standing. The responsibility for such contact strictly rests with our athletics academic advisors under the purview of the Office of the New Brunswick Chancellor. Coach Flood used his personal email to contact the faculty member and had an in-person meeting with the faculty member regarding the academic standing of a member of the football team. The multiple email contacts came both before and after the meeting, which occurred at an off-campus location.
- A member of the athletics academic advising staff reported that she reminded Coach Flood, after he sent the initial email but before he had the in-person meeting with the faculty member, that he is not to have contact with any faculty member regarding a student's academic standing. Coach Flood nevertheless moved forward with the previously scheduled meeting with the faculty member.
- After meeting with Coach Flood, the faculty member agreed to review an additional paper as partial satisfaction for the requirements of a course the student had already completed. The paper was submitted to the faculty member but ultimately was not graded and the academic status of the student and his final course grade remained unchanged.
- Coach Flood and the student both have acknowledged that Coach Flood provided grammatical and minor editorial suggestions to the submitted paper. The Office of Enterprise Risk Management, Ethics and Compliance consulted with senior campus academic officials, including the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Chancellor, Rutgers-New Brunswick, who both agreed, after reviewing the paper before and after the edits, that the assistance provided by Coach Flood was in line with standard student support offered on campus by student learning centers and did not constitute academic misconduct.
The Office of Enterprise Risk Management, Ethics and Compliance provided me with the report and I have carefully considered the information and discussed its findings with senior leadership, including the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors. Based on what we know now, it is clear to me that Coach Flood had inappropriate communications with the faculty member in violation of an established policy. The policy is well-known among staff in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Coach Flood is specifically tasked with knowing both NCAA and our institutional policies regarding these issues. Simply, Coach Flood has no excuse for not knowing the rule and following it.
For his violations of University policy, I have suspended Coach Flood for three consecutive games of inter-collegiate competition effective immediately. I also have imposed a fine of $50,000.
I believe that the discipline is severe and justified for his failure to follow policy. 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. 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. 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.
As a result of today's findings, we are working with outside counsel to determine if any National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) bylaws have been violated. During the course of the investigation, we informed the NCAA Enforcement staff and we will be working with them on next steps. We will participate in the enforcement/infractions process per our conditions and obligations of membership in the NCAA.
I have also asked Director of Athletics Julie Hermann to ensure that our compliance training and oversight regarding the athletics staff prohibition on inappropriate contact with faculty regarding a student-athlete is among the best in the nation.
Over the past three years, we have taken significant steps in establishing a strong compliance and oversight culture and organization on campus, including the creation of the Office of Enterprise Risk Management, Ethics and Compliance in 2013 that reports directly to me and to the Audit Committee of the Board of Governors. During the Summer and Fall of 2014, I expanded the mission of that office to include across-the-board institutional compliance. At my direction, the compliance program was structured further to ensure that resources would be available to address the emerging compliance risks of Athletics, Title IX and Research and to strengthen our programs in Ethics and Privacy. Earlier this summer, that office recruited new expert leadership in each of these areas as well as a new Director of Ethics who brings to the University in-depth experience with the New Jersey State Ethics Commission. I believe that we now have one of the strongest institutional risk management and compliance programs in higher education. But it is up to each of us to actualize the goals of this program.
We have high expectations of every member of our community and no one is free from responsibility. We must use this opportunity to grow, to do more and to do better. And we will.