Howard University has cancelled participation of spring sports in a "self-imposed" action as part of an ongoing investigation. However, the decision to cancel part of the spring schedule will not affect the Bison football team or its spring workouts.
That's good news for Rutgers, which is scheduled to meet Howard on Sept. 8 in the first home game for new head coach Kyle Flood.
University spokeswoman, Kerry-Ann Hamilton, Ph.D., Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing, sent Yahoo!Sports the university's official statement on the voluntary suspension of spring sports:
"Howard University is conducting an internal investigation of possible NCAA rules-violations. As a result of this process, the University temporarily withheld a number of student-athletes from competition as a self-imposed action. Most teams will compete as scheduled. We are working diligently to fully resolve this matter as quickly as a possible. In order to protect the integrity of this review, we are unable to share additional details at this time."
Most of the athletic department's scheduled games for spring sports will begin again this Friday and the self-imposed sanctions will not affect the football team. However, several student-athletes are being held out of spring competition across multiple sports while the university determines whether textbook vouchers were spent on other items. There was no word which athletes from which sports were affected by the self-imposed sanction.
Howard coach Gary HarrellHoward football, a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), was coming off a 5-5 season. When news of the self-imposed sanctions came out Wednesday morning, it seemed as though the temporary suspension of the Howard athletic program included the football team and could have been yet another scheduling snafu for the Scarlet Knights.
Just a few months ago, there was speculation that Rutgers and Syracuse might have to play twice to make up for the scheduling gap left by West Virginia's departure to the Big 12. That gap was filled by Temple, which will join the conference this fall, but it leaves the Scarlet Knights with just six home games, instead of the seven they anticipated.
Rutgers also booked and home-and-home with Arkansas, but it travels to Fayetteville this year.
Last week, Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti told media he's asking the Big East to pay for the money lost from that seventh home game, which could be upwards of $1.5 million.
Rutgers wouldn't have had much trouble finding another FCS team to fill the potential loss of Howard, but it probably would have been a major annoyance and Rutgers seems pretty confident the Howard football program will remain in the clear at least as far as the game is concerned.
"Next year's game should not be effected," a Rutgers spokesperson told Yahoo! Sports.
- - -
"Like" Dr. Saturday on Facebook for football conversations and stuff you won't see on the blog. Follow Kristian Dyer @KristianRDyer. And follow Dr. Saturday at its new home on Twitter: @YahooDrSaturday