November 16, 2013

Rutgers football player quits after coach’s verbal abuse

The player alleges an assistant coach verbally abused him and threatened to head-butt him during a spring study hall session.

The Associated Press

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — There’s another coaching problem at Rutgers.

click image to enlarge

Rutgers defensive coordinator Dave Cohen watches his players warm up before an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati in Piscataway, N.J., on Saturday. A player who left the team says Cohen used two profane terms in the study hall in front of teammates and an academic adviser, who reported the issue, according to the website NJ.com.

The Associated Press

A Scarlet Knights football player has left the team after alleging that a coach verbally abused him and threatened to head-butt him during a spring study hall session. The player said the assistant then treated him unfairly once the season started.

Jevon Tyree, a redshirt freshman from Somerset, was on scholarship and quit the team Nov. 6.

Tyree said defensive coordinator Dave Cohen used two profane terms in the study hall in front of teammates and an academic adviser, who reported the issue, according to the website NJ.com.

Cohen was reprimanded by Coach Kyle Flood the next day and apologized, the university said in a statement. The school denied any physical threat.

This matter comes less than a year after basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for physically and verbally abusing players. The scandal last year also caused Tim Pernetti to resign as athletic director along with a high-ranking university attorney.

It also led the school to review the way its coaches treat players and eventually led to the suspension of the men’s lacrosse coach Brian Brecht for alleged verbal abuse of players. The university eventually found no criminal or university policy violations and reinstated him.

This latest disclosure coincides with the NFL investigation into claims by Miami offensive tackle Jonathan Martin that he was bullied and harassed in the Dolphins’ locker room and by text messages by fellow lineman Richie Incognito.

The situation between Tyree and Cohen happened at the height of the Rice controversy.

“Cohen apologized the following day for his participation in the escalation of banter, which resulted in the use of inappropriate language,” the statement said. “Kyle Flood reprimanded Cohen and addressed the situation immediately with the entire coaching staff.

“This was an isolated incident,” the statement added. “At no time was there any threat of physical violence, which was verified by an academic counselor, who was present in the room.”

Tyree failed to get playing time this season despite numerous injuries in the secondary. His decision to leave the team might have been influenced recently when Flood decided to switch a wide receiver to defensive back because of the lack of depth at the spot. The receiver, Ruhann Peele, played in the next game on defense.

The university said Mark Tyree, the player’s father, contacted new athletic director Julie Hermann six months later to discuss Jevon’s role on the team and how coaching decisions were made. During the conversation with Hermann, Tyree’s father reintroduced the March situation, the university said.

Hermann then talked to Flood, who apprised her of the situation and how it was addressed.

The university said Flood initiated an additional meeting with Tyree and his parents to address their concerns and his future with the team. The following morning, Sept. 17, Tyree informed Flood of his intention to remain with the program.

Hermann spoke to Tyree’s father after the meeting with Flood and confirmed the matter was resolved to his satisfaction, the university said.

Mark Tyree told NJ.com he has never spoken to Hermann and his family initiated the additional meetings with Flood.

Calls to Tyree’s home on Saturday by The Associated Press were unsuccessful because the line was busy.

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