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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Rutgers University Board of Governors (BOG) will meet behind closed doors for a secret meeting on September 11, presumably to discuss the brewing scandals related to the football team.
The board has broad powers to set tuition rates, negotiate with unions, buy land and build new buildings, as well as hire and fire the University’s President.
But the board, which had not been scheduled to meet until October 14, will only meet regarding “athletics matters and anticipated or pending litigation,” on September 11.
The secretive meeting could decide potential punishment for head football coach Kyle Flood, after he was accused of inappropriately contacting the teacher of a failing player.
Nadir Barnwell, widely believed to be the student athlete in question, was one of five current and two former Rutgers football players arrested and charged with violent crimes just two days before the start of the season.
The arrests sent shockwaves through the Rutgers community, and compounded Flood’s problems just as he was set to begin his fourth season as head coach.
Both Rutgers President Bob Barchi and Athletic Director Julie Hermann have come under fire from both sides in the debacle, with some arguing they failed to show support for Flood and others arguing they should speak out against the alleged violation of academic integrity.
Flood had been already under investigation for weeks regarding an e-mail he allegedly sent a teacher, sparking extensive media coverage and concerns from the school’s faculty union.
The faculty union, Rutgers AAUP-AFT, announced on September 9 that it had approved a resolution regarding Flood’s alleged communication with the teacher, who is believed to be a part-time lecturer.
Published reports indicated that Flood disregarded the advice of his academic support staff and directly contacted the faculty member about the student’s grade.
In his own defense, Flood seemingly admitted to contacting faculty directly, which would be a violation of university policy.
The resolution calls for Rutgers to “act decisively and publicly to maintain its credibility,” and states the alleged email has “caused concern within and outside the University community.”
Most notably, the union has urged Rutgers to investigate any potential communication Flood has had with his players’ instructors “with particular attention to possible intimidation or bullying of vulnerable, contingent faculty.”
The union called for academic freedom in regards to assessing students’ performance.
“Academic freedom is an essential component of quality higher education and the freedom for faculty members to assess students’ work without external pressure is an essential component of academic freedom,” the resolution reads.
The union added that a Rutgers diploma is dependent on “a grading process free of external interference.”
The union also alleged that the student in question had been assigned an “F” by the unnamed instructor. Neither Barnwell nor the teacher were mentioned by name in the statement.
The player’s grade had previously been unknown. An “F” grade would have made the player academically ineligible for the 2015 season, according to the resolution.
Flood’s team rolled to a 63-13 win over Norfolk State on September 5, in the first game of the season.
For the second game of the season, the team is hosting Washington State University at Rutgers Stadium on September 12. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30pm.