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OTB Staff Roundtable regarding the Kyle Flood suspension

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Kyle Flood was suspended three games and fined $50,000 for his actions involving a university instructor. Is that the end? Or is it just the beginning?

NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

There is now some closure to the saga that was the email - and apparently many emails - sent by Kyle Flood to an instructor.  After a lengthy, and sometimes a seemingly interminable, investigation, outside counsel established that Flood had violated athletic policy.  So we're done, right?  On the Banks staffers pool their collective minds to offer some thoughts on where we are and where we are going in football and athletics.

Bob Cancro: Wow!  My head is all over the place, and I'm upset on a lot of fronts.  I'm still someone who likes Kyle Flood as a person and as a coach.  But I can't imagine what he was thinking as he continued to follow up on [student's] work in that class.  There were three - three - academic advisors who were involved and at least one told him that he shouldn't be doing this and that he (the advisor) didn't want to be a part of this.  Any red flags go up, coach?

This was one bad decision after another by Flood.  I had said previously that based on what we knew, and unless more comes out, this is a relatively minor issue.  And in the grandest scheme of things, yeah, it isn't the end of the world.  But Flood just seemed to not realize/acknowledge what he was doing as being a) inappropriate and b) a violation of policy.  Not good form.

I have an issue with who is in charge of athletics.  I understand that this was an "academic" matter, so Julie wasn't making the decision.  But look at Barchi's comment about the process:

"It was my decision,'' Barchi said of the disciplinary measure. "I believe it is my decision to make and I'm the one who made it. Obviously in making this decision I consulted with senior academic leadership, my vice president for academic affairs, I consulted with general counsel, I consulted with the executive committee of the Board of Governors, and I kept the entire Board of Governors informed along the way. I've had plenty of folks aware and a number of folks consulting with me but ultimately this was my decision.''

I would think that he would specifically mention any consultation with the athletic director...but there isn't any.

I don't think there was any cabal here, no conspiracy to get Flood.  But I do believe that this might be used as a wedge to force the issue of keeping or removing him.  A lot will depend on donors (see Texas AD) and whether they are now willing to support Kyle or not.  And whether they are willing to support Rutgers or not.  Or Julie Hermann or not.  The Texas president heard from donors, and that convinced him to fire the AD.  Could the same thing happen here?  Are there enough big money folks out there to influence this either way?  As I said at the outset....Wow!

Dave White: To be honest, I'm angry.  As an educator I'm angry and as a fan I'm angry.  When you play up how you're a school that does things right and is still successful (not great, but definitely successful), and something like this happens, you're going to catch the slings and arrows of everyone.  What Flood did--it's just mind numbing in how monumentally ridiculous it is.  It flaunts against what Rutgers says it stands for, in my opinion.  Listen, I'm sure Flood is a good man, but he needed to know what not to do and every single step he makes throughout the report is the wrong one.  He went down a road for that I never expected a man of Flood's character to go down.  I am honestly stunned he was only suspended.

And in my opinion, it doesn't even seem like Flood was doing this to help the kid.  Instead-as it says on page 4 of the report-it was a lousy situation because he was a top recruit and publicity would be difficult.  That's what irritates me the most.  It wasn't about helping a kid succeed in the classroom, just doing well enough to get back on the field and not bring about bad publicity.

Griffin Whitmer: Now, I'm mad. I got ripped by fans from all over for writing an article defending Kyle Flood's character. Flood has put everything I said to sh*t, and then some. Even after the e-mail scandal first broke I stood by him and didn't think he deserved to be fired. However, he crossed a clear line and never looked back. Every time I would read another sentence in the report, things just looked worse and worse. I can't believe he continued to break university policy and defy his colleagues and superiors. I'm mad that a man of Kyle Flood's character could do so many bad things and be so brazen about it. Some of the quotes from him easily show cause to fire him. A combination of a now weak team and this situation lead me believe that this team is in a pretty bad spot

Aaron Breitman: At the end of the day as an alumnus, I value Rutgers University as a whole and everything it represents. The football team is a part of that and represents the entire university in a high profile manner, bringing judgement on all of the Rutgers community, for better or worse.  Kyle Flood has embarrassed himself, the football program, and the University.  Sure, he was trying to help a player, but by completely going around the system, knowingly and willingly.  What life lesson does that teach your players?  His actions put the academic integrity of our school in question.  That is inexcusable and unforgivable.  Click here to see all the world and national rankings of our great university.  I am a die hard sports fan and Rutgers is my number one, has been since I was a kid.  But I would never want our sports teams to succeed by sacrificing the academic integrity of our great university. The tragic thing is I believe Flood has operated in a transparent and classy way in his four years as head coach.  And now this puts it all into question. The damage this has caused, on top of several other previous scandals involving the athletic department, has left Rutgers reputation in the mud.  That makes me incredibly sad.   All I can do now is put my energy into supporting the players that are still on this team.  They deserve our support and hopefully they can rally and salvage the season.  This program will see better days, it's just upsetting that we are in the midst of some of our worst.

Andy Egan: I wrote last week about the options that might come out of the unscheduled, secret, BOG meeting, and identified a multiple email scenario among the "worst case" possibilities that could/should/would cause Kyle Flood to lose his job. The facts are somehow worse - but Flood still has his job, for now. I couldn't imagine a worse look for Flood - multiple emails, an in-person clandestine meeting with a professor, and written admissions that he was using private email to deliberately [try to] circumvent OPRA laws. And multiple people told him not to do it along the way, so the system worked in that respect at least. Flood just did not care about the red lights he blew through while flying through the intersection. I think the report was well done and seemingly thorough, but the question always remains in situations like this - is that all? Is there anything else out there that's going to slap long-suffering RU fans in the mouth as soon as we try to move on from this? I was critical of Barchi and Hermann for remaining silent while waiting for this report. I am still critical of them for lots of things, but in retrospect, I think they handled this particular situation pretty well. While they could have done better in terms of explaining what was happening with the investigation and providing some sort of timeline for resolution so this wasn't a daily issue for three weeks, they were wise to keep their mouths shut about specifics, and certainly smart not to publicly voice support for Flood until the facts were in. In a vacuum, a three game suspension *could* be an appropriate punishment for what Flood did. But Rutgers doesn't operate in a vacuum. Maybe I'm completely wrong, but It feels like they are going to fire Flood after the season anyway, barring some sort of miracle season. In that case, they just wasted an opportunity to claim his termination was for cause and avoid paying the buyout. They also have a lame duck coach trying to guide the program and recruit the next classes, a near impossible position to sustain convincingly. So the punishment feels like a half measure, and one that just kicks the problem down the road a bit while James Franklin and Urban Meyer whisper (again) that Flood is a goner for the next 10 weeks. Le sigh - some fans get to worry only about how their team looks on the field. That clearly is not our lot in life. So we keep chopping, so to speak, and wait for better days.

Ray Ransom: I love Flood. He has to go. I love the staff that we have together. Every one of them has to go. I have no love for Hermann. She has to go. Rutgers is one of the few institutions that value big-time sports and big-time academics in both rhetoric and action. The methods and strategies of the head coach and athletic director have been unacceptable, on multiple fronts. It's not a single issue that has gotten us to this point. It is a complete, systemic and cultural failure and the only way to rectify this situation is to clean house. No matter how much we like or do not like a coach or administrator, the bottom line is that Rutgers represents hundreds of thousands of students, alumni, teachers, researchers and staff, along with millions of New Jersey residents for whom the State University is a envoy to the world. For better or worse, the football staff and athletic director will be replaced. The only question is when. I expect that a season of turmoil will lead to a mass firing the first day of the off-season. The only question in my mind is how this team rallies in the coming weeks. I know Chop Nation will be there supporting the team every step of the way and I know these players will rally around each other. The game this Saturday will tell us a great deal about whether or not that will be enough to salvage the 2015 season.

Scott Logan: When it comes to the recent arrests and subsequent suspensions and dismissals, I'm of the mind that you can't put all of that on Flood. But when it comes to the e-mail scandal, there's no other way to spin it. Flood messed up. At one point, I was willing to believe Flood simply overstepped a boundary he didn't know existed. But after reading the full report, it's clear he knew what he was doing was against the rules. Now, I still don't get the impression he ever pressured the professor into changing Barnwell's grade without him making up work, but he knew he was going rogue in an effort to get one of his top players on the field.

I'm trying to stay positive at a time when Rutgers is doing its best to break my optimism, so I think Flood deserves a mulligan. He has always displayed great character, class and pride in running a program with integrity. His players clearly love him, and the Class of 2016 recruits have already banded together to show their continued support of him. If this team can win games, everything changes. If they still manage to win six or seven regular season games, this could end up being water under the bridge. But anything short of bowl eligibility probably results in Barchi and friends giving him the boot.

Kelly Montagna: The anger that I'm feeling regarding the emerging details about this investigation does not stem from Flood personally, but rather the idea of the student athlete and collegiate sports as an entity. If we're going to mandate the student athlete, we cannot allow the student part to be a complete farce. Let's not kid ourselves in thinking that Flood reached out to the professor in order to help Barnwell get a better education at Rutgers. He did so in a self-serving manner to enable a student athlete to play on the football field, even when the player in question did not uphold the "student first" mantra that colleges like throwing in the public's face. Flood is not the first or the last coach to do this, unfortunately. But the most troubling aspect of this ordeal is the direct circumvention of the rules that Flood showed. He came out in a statement stating that he broke a rule that he was not aware of, yet directly told the professor he reached out to that he was doing so via a personal email to avoid "public vetting of the correspondence." I have no idea how Flood has kept his job up until now, but I do know that he will be a distraction for this program until he is no longer associated with it.