With Rutgers' football season set to begin in less than two weeks, coach Kyle Flood could have a greater concern.
Rutgers is investigating whether Flood had impermissible contact with a faculty member regarding the eligibility of one of his players, according to NJ Advance Media. According to the report, Flood allegedly sent an email to a faculty member about the status of junior cornerback Nadir Barnwell. If Flood is found to have committed a violation, potential disciplinary action from the school includes a public reprimand, suspension or termination from his contract, per the report.
The content of the email is unknown, but the school's office of general counsel is reportedly investigating.
"Our faculty are part of our program. Just as recently as the other day, we had two faculty members at our practice. Now, any correspondence that I had with a professor in regard to a student-athlete would really be of this nature: One, to be in support of whatever decision that faculty member made, and two, to inquire as to whether or not there would be an opportunity to earn a better grade. Now, this practice is not unusual at Rutgers. Many students all over campus receive what are called 'T grades' (temporary grades) doing work outside of when the class ends that semester to earn a better grade."
Flood also attacked the tone of the report, suggesting his integrity and the integrity of the school's faculty had been insulted. Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann referred questions to school president Robert Barchi.
According to a source cited by NJ Advance Media, Flood's intent in sending the email is also a factor for consideration, along with the email's contents.
Barnwell, asked about his academic eligibility on Aug. 16, deferred questions to Flood. He has been practicing with the team in the preseason while awaiting academic clearance, and had been expected to be a starter for the Scarlet Knights.
The report cites an NCAA precedent case at Georgia, where a swim coach had impermissible contact with an instructor. In that case, the coach was suspended from 50 percent of the regular season and from recruiting for one year.
In 2014, its inaugural season in the Big Ten, Rutgers finished 8-5 overall and 3-5 in the conference, and capped the year with a 40-21 win over North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl.