Rutgers coach Kyle Flood defends program, himself in first press conference back

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood spent his first press conference following a three-game suspension defending the actions that placed him on suspension in the first place.

Flood tried to explain his reasoning for using his private email account to contact a faculty member regarding the academic status of a student-athlete who was struggling to stay eligible. Flood said doing so was in an effort to watch out for the student-athlete, not himself.

“I understand why when looked at out of context, people might feel that way,” Flood said. “The issue with the private email was really just to protect the student-athlete, a student-athlete whose academic record had already been, to some degree, on public display when it shouldn't have been.

“The meeting with the professor was in an open courtyard in broad daylight. The comment about not having Rutgers gear on was very small-talkish type comment. But it's one of the things I've learned in this process, is that things like that when you're the head football coach, they can be taken out of context.”

Rutgers has a steadfast rule that prohibits coaches from contacting faculty members directly. All communication goes through the academic support staff. When Flood was first slapped with the three-game suspension, he said he was not aware of the rule. He continued to defend his own ignorance, but said he was ultimately responsible for knowing the rule. He also noted that it was the first time he’d ever instigated a conversation with a faculty member in that manner.

“Sure, I've had a lot of interactions with the faculty, on the practice field, at games, at functions, but nothing, nothing of this context before, and certainly not in the future.” Flood said.

“I would tell you is that when you make decisions, I try to make them in the best interest of the student-athlete, and going forward, I need to make sure that not only do I make them in the best interest of the student-athlete, that I make them within the rules.”

During Flood’s absence, Rutgers hired an independent law firm to investigate whether the football program had violated any rules pertaining to drug use and athletic hostesses. Flood was specifically asked about former fullback Lloyd Terry, who was booted from the team at the beginning of the year after being arrested for armed robbery. Terry told the Middlesex County prosecutor that he had failed multiple drug tests while at Rutgers, which led to the question of whether Flood believed there was a drug problem in his program.

“I take the issue of marijuana, drugs, alcohol addiction very seriously,” Flood said. “I think those are big issues on every college campus in the country. Do I feel that we have an issue above and beyond what our campus is or what another team has? I do not. That has not been my experience.”

While a lot has happened in Flood’s absence, he said he spent several Saturdays in seclusion, but that he’s eager to get back on the sideline against Indiana.

“I spent the first two by myself watching the game, and then this week's game I spent with my son watching the game, and I guess what I would tell you is it's probably the most helpless I've ever felt in 22 years of coaching,” Flood said. “To be watching your team play, you've been with them all week, you feel like you add value when you're there, and when you can't, you just feel helpless.

Now we've got a great opportunity this week to move our program forward, playing against a great opponent on the road in Indiana. I know that I'm looking forward to it, certainly to get back on the sideline, but our team is looking forward to it, as well.”

For more Rutgers news, visit ScarletNation.com.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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