By Brenda Flanagan
Rutgers’ football program took a hard hit yesterday, when police arrested five current players on criminal charges ranging from assault to burglary, even as the Scarlet Knights practiced to kick off their second season in the Big Ten. Students sounded — cynical.
“I don’t know, maybe they, raging testosterone,” said Mike Schwartz. “Yeah, they are football players, and they gotta be macho.”
“It’s a little sad, and a little disappointing, and I’m surprised, more than anything because, you’d think they’d be a little smarter,” said Becky Hill.
Police arrested players Nadir Barnwell, Ruhann Peele, Razohnn Gross, Delon Stephenson and former teammate Tejay Johnson on charges of aggravated assault, riot and conspiracy to commit a riot in connection with an alleged fight on a New Brunswick street April 25 — that left a student with a broken jaw. Police also charged Johnson and Andre “Dre” Boggs with wielding bats & guns,
to rob students of cash and drugs, in three alleged home invasions.
Rutgers issued a statement saying, “… the alleged behavior warrants an interim suspension until additional information becomes available.” Athletic Director Julie Hermann stated, “The students involved are currently suspended from our program. We continue to monitor the situation. We will have no further comment as this is a pending legal matter.”
“They’re big boys, you know they make their own decisions. They’ll have to face the consequences, whatever they may be,” said Rony Michel .
“If it’s severe enough, they can get kicked off the team. I wouldn’t mind. I think they need to set an example for other athletes,” said Briana Smith .
The arrests piled more trouble on beleaguered Coach Kyle Flood — who’s already under scrutiny for allegedly trying to persuade a professor to reconsider Nadir Barnwell’s low grades — which made the cornerback ineligible to play last semester.
“I think it’s dysfunctional,” said Mark Killingworth.
Economics Professor Killingsworth’s part of a coalition that believes Rutgers athletics is siphoning dollars and support from its academic program. He thinks the athletics department needs a top-to-bottom revamp.
“The powers that be need to understand that this is a university and its business is education, not entertainment. I think events like the ones we’ve seen in the last week or two are destroying our reputation. I think it’s very, very serious,” he said.
“We can’t throw Coach Flood under the bus for this. He has over a hundred student athletes participating in his program. We have 650 in the university as a whole, their SATs are higher than the student average. The people who are trying to throw Coach Flood under the bus are just wrong and they’re trying to destroy the entire athletic program and that’s wrong, also,” said Sen. Ray Lesniak.
While this latest fumble ramps up the pressure on Coach Flood, he hasn’t been sacked yet. He says he plans to be on the sidelines, coaching tomorrow’s big game.