It’s been three weeks since the news broke that multiple Rutgers football players were under investigation for credit card fraud. While the investigation is still not complete, we now know the names of the six players involved per the latest report from Keith Sargeant of NJ Advance Media.
6 Rutgers football players won’t report to camp as credit card probe continues https://t.co/5bPw22w1EY— Keith Sargeant (@KSargeantNJ) August 2, 2018
The six players under investigation are Redshirt junior linebacker/safety Malik Dixon, senior defensive back Kobe Marfo, sophomore defensive end C.J. Onyechi, redshirt freshman cornerback Edwin Lopez, redshirt freshman defensive back Naijee Jones and redshirt freshman linebacker Syhiem Simmons. They will not report today for the start of training camp and have been left off the official roster as of right now. Head coach Chris Ash confirmed to Sargeant that they are part of the investigation, but couldn’t comment further.
This is the absolutely right move by the program. I called for zero tolerance for any players that are ultimately charged with a crime in this investigation and holding these six out of training camp sends a strong message. The right message. While they haven’t been charged with any crime as of yet, they haven’t been cleared either. Keeping them out until their involvement is confirmed and defined gives Rutgers time to make the proper decision on their futures.
In addition, two former players, K.J. Gray and Brendan Devera were dismissed from the program last month and Sargeant confirmed that they are at “the center of the probe” regarding this investigation.
Rutgers can’t afford to mishandle another scandal, something that has been commonplace on the banks in the past decade. None were under the watch of Ash or athletic director Pat Hobbs and so far, they seem to be handling their first major issue off the field very well. Cutting ties with Gray and Devera, while holding out the others while the investigation plays out demonstrates sound judgement and swift action.
In terms of on the field impact, Rutgers is fortunate that none of these players were projected starters. The secondary is hurt the most by any potential suspension or dismissal, but it also has the strongest front line depth on the team this season. If even a few of them never return, it would certainly hurt depth in the short term and long term. However, the benefit of that depth is not worth the negative impact of not making discipline in regard to off the field issues as the top priority. Ash and Hobbs deserve praise for doing so in this case.
While the hope was for the investigation to be completed so the team could have closure on the issue once training camp began, keeping those players involved away from the team minimizes the distraction in preparing for the season ahead.