NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Rutgers University’s Board of Governors met behind closed doors Friday amid the latest scandal to hit the sports program the school has been trying to build up.
Rutgers President Robert Barchi said the meeting, which dealt with the university’s athletics program, covered legal issues and that the board “an extensive and robust conversation, that they were fully briefed.”
Football coach Kyle Flood has kicked six players off the team after their arrests this month on charges that include armed robbery and home-invasion burglary and rioting. One of the former players was also charged in two home-invasion robberies.
Five of the players were dismissed before the Scarlet Knights season opener last week, a 63-13 win over Norfolk State. Rutgers plays Washington State on Saturday.
Rutgers is also probing whether Flood improperly contacted a teacher the grades of one of the players before Flood removed him after his arrest. That kind of contact could be a violation of university and NCAA rules.
Over the last decade, Rutgers has been trying hard to build up its major sports programs, something some in the university see as one way to improve the prestige of the New Jersey’s flagship state university. The university absorbed two medical schools in 2013 as part of a higher education restructuring in New Jersey designed largely to make Rutgers into a biomedical research powerhouse.
The football team, which had been to one bowl game in its history before 2005, has played in them following 9 of the last 10 seasons.
Rutgers teams also began play last year in the Big Ten, one of the nation’s highest-profile athletic conferences.
The expansion has come at a cost, as some studies have found Rutgers has subsidized sports in recent years at a higher level than other major universities.
The athletic department has also weathered other difficulties, including another that resulted in special closed-door meetings of the university’s board of governors.
In 2013, men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was fired and popular athletic director Tim Pernetti was forced to resign after a video was made public showing Rice hitting, kicking and yelling gay slurs at players.
Julie Hermann was hired as athletic director to try to clean up that mess and was dogged by allegations that she had verbally and emotionally abused volleyball players she was coaching at Tennessee in 1996.