PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Kyle Flood will coach Rutgers in its season opener against Norfolk State on Saturday despite an ongoing academic investigation and the arrest and suspension of five football players.
Hours after Flood said at practice Thursday he would coach, prosecutors announced the arrest and charges against five players, including three starters.
Athletic director Julie Hermann said later Thursday that the arrested players had been suspended. They include cornerback Nadir Barnwell, who is at the center of the investigation into whether Flood violated school or NCAA rules by contacting a faculty member about Barnwell’s academic status.
Prosecutors announced Barnwell, defensive back Ruhann Peele, fullback Razohnn Gross and defensive back Delon Stephenson were charged with aggravated assault, riot and conspiracy to commit a riot for a fight in April that left a man with a broken jaw.
The Middlesex County prosecutor’s office said defensive back Andre Boggs was charged in two home-invasion robberies in April and May.
Barnwell, Boggs and Stephenson were starters on the team.
“We continue to monitor the situation,” Hermann said. “We will have no further comment as this is a pending legal matter.”
The academic investigation into Flood hasn’t been resolved. The university has been examining Flood’s actions for about a week.
“I have no reason to believe I won’t be coaching on Saturday,” Flood said.
Flood refused to speculate on whether he would be disciplined, saying he’ll be respectful the process. He also wouldn’t say whether he had a contingency plan for who would coach the team if he was suspended or fired.
“It’s not something we do as a coaching staff. I have a very talented coaching staff, so I have guys that have been head coaches. But again, I will be coaching the game on Saturday,” Flood said.
Flood said he doesn’t think the investigation has been a distraction for his team.
“I feel right now this has brought the team closer together,” Flood said. “I feel good about where the team is at mentally. Ultimately, we’re going to find out Saturday at 12 noon.”
Flood is entering his fourth season as head coach and his 11th overall at the university. He’s 23-16, taking the Scarlet Knights to a bowl game in each of his first three seasons.
The scene and feeling at practice was different on Thursday.
There was a higher security presence, with a security officer blocking Scarlet Knights Way, the road to the Hale Center. More Rutgers officials than usual attended practice.