Media hammers Kyle Flood in first post-suspension press conference
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood returned to the podium for the first since he was handed a three-game suspension for having impermissible contact with a university professor.
But the Rutgers media had no interest in talking about the team’s effort in the Michigan State game. Not one question about the Scarlet Knights’ upcoming game at Indiana was asked.
Instead, Flood was peppered with questions about the events that led to his suspension.
Here’s the full transcript from Monday’s press conference:
KYLE FLOOD: Good afternoon. I would like to start by thanking Dr. Barchi for this opportunity to not only return to the podium but return to game day this Saturday, a day that I’m looking forward to. I would also like to take a moment and thank Norries Wilson, somebody who accepted the responsibility of being the interim head coach when I was unable to be there. I thought he did an excellent job. I’ve been proud to have Norries on my staff for a couple years now, and this situation only served to strengthen how strongly I feel about him, not only as a football coach but as a leader of men and a person.
I’ve had the opportunity to apologize for this situation to the team, to my family, but I’d like to take the opportunity now to apologize to the entire Rutgers community, to the students, to the alumni, and especially to the faculty, a faculty that I have a tremendous, tremendous respect for. Since becoming the head coach in 2012, it’s never been my goal to just be the head football coach at Rutgers. My goal has always been to be a bigger part of the community here at Rutgers, a bigger part of the community in New Jersey, and I’ve worked very hard to make that happen.
If this situation in any way has hindered or slowed that progress toward that goal, I’d just like to say that I’m fully committed as I go forward to making sure that that happens once again.
Q. You said in the report that you didn’t know the rule, but some of your actions obviously went to lengths to conceal what you’re doing, so how do you explain that contradiction?
KYLE FLOOD: It’s already been discussed in Dr. Barchi’s letter. What I would tell you is ultimately what’s important is I’m responsible to know the rule. As the head football coach I’m responsible to know every rule. When you say actions, tell me a little bit more specifically about what you’re speaking of.
Q. Well, using your private email account and not wearing Rutgers clothes so you wouldn’t be recognized in the meeting.
KYLE FLOOD: I understand why when looked at out of context, people might feel that way. 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 on 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.
Q. You said it’s your responsibility to know the rule. You’ve been here for 10, 11 years. How did you not know the rule?
KYLE FLOOD: Again, not something I’m going to go into. There’s been a report. We’re four weeks past when the suspension took place. But ultimately I am responsible to know it.
Q. Obviously this report just went into this one incident. Have you done anything like this before, because in your initial comments you said you talk to faculty all the time. In the nature of those conversations has there ever been anything like this happen before?
KYLE FLOOD: 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.
Q. Dr. Barchi mentioned that termination was considered. Do you feel like you’re on thin ice, or do you think it’s a clean slate from here?
KYLE FLOOD: I’ve never felt that way. I feel I’ve got an excellent relationship with Dr. Barchi. I’ll leave his comments to him to comment on, but I feel fully supported.
Q. If this is the only time you did it, why do it in this instance? Why not leave it to academic staff?
KYLE FLOOD: I don’t know if discussing that is really what this press conference should be about, but what 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.
Q. Obviously part of your job is to discipline players. Do you feel like this challenges that at all, any credibility lost?
KYLE FLOOD: I don’t. I don’t. It’s something that I addressed with the players. I made a mistake. There are consequences to those actions, and those consequences have been fulfilled, and now we move forward just like I would with a player.
Q. Did you knowingly break the rule?
KYLE FLOOD: Again, I think that’s a similar question to the one I just answered. Dr. Barchi has referenced that in his letter to the University. I’m not going to go further into that. Ultimately the important thing is that I’m responsible to know it.
Q. Do you fear the perception — you talk about accountability frequently; by not going into it, could there be a perception that maybe you were not fully taking accountability for it?
KYLE FLOOD: I don’t know that I can completely control perception. What I know is this: The people that know me personally, the families of our players, the families of the recruits we’re currently involved in, that issue doesn’t exist. For the people maybe who don’t know me as intimately as those groups of people do, I think the healing is going to take time, and I understand that, and I’m fully committed to making sure that that happens.
Q. Obviously there’s going to be people who are going to see this and say, this was a coach who was going to stop at nothing to get his top cornerback eligible. What would you say to that line of reasoning and what was your line of reasoning for these actions to get the player eligible?
KYLE FLOOD: I think it’s hard for me to control what people who only know me for this situation might think, so I’m not going to begin to try to do that. The people that do know me I know don’t feel that way. And the ones that get to know me, I’m very confident that they won’t feel that way, either.
Q. The University has conceded there’s a continuing investigation handled by a Kansas City law firm, possible NCAA infractions. Is that something that your program is cooperating with?
KYLE FLOOD: Absolutely. We have a very transparent program, and we’ll fully cooperate with anything the University wants to look at.
Q. You frequently tout academics here. When you walk in the Hale Center, you’re there with graduates, an image of you with graduates. Does this report and did this suspension, to what extent does it undermine that notion?
KYLE FLOOD: I don’t think it undermines it. Again, the people that really look at our program are going to see a long history of academic success. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved here in the 11 years I’ve been here. But even in the years since I’ve been the head coach in 2012, continuous high rankings in the APR. Since I’ve been the head coach, we’ve hit an all-time high in team GPA. Those are things we take very seriously, and all those things still exist within our program.
Q. Kyle, during the time you were gone, one of your former players Lloyd Terry allegedly told police he failed multiple drug tests here and became “addicted to weed” was actually the quote. I know you can’t talk specifically about specific players because of privacy, but just in general, Rutgers athletics has a drug policy. How closely is your program enforcing the penalties and procedures of that policy?
KYLE FLOOD: I’ll start with the last question first. Our program enforces the University drug policy. That’s not an issue. But I think what people need to understand is that that policy has different phases to it. That policy is about testing. That policy is about care. And we have a best-in-class care system here at Rutgers, one that any of our athletes who test positive immediately go into, and we’re very proud of it, that we do everything we can to help our student-athletes with what is a very, very serious issue today with young people.
Q. Just to make sure I’m clear, you’re saying, because I know there’s stages to it, so if a guy has a second positive drug test, they’re getting a one-game suspension in this program?
KYLE FLOOD: I believe you guys have already been given the policy, correct. So again, I’m not going to comment on the policy. The policy is what it is and we adhere to the policy.
Q. I guess as it relates to Lloyd Terry, he did allegedly — the Middlesex County prosecutor said he failed multiple drug tests. He only played one game last year. Were there any suspensions, any reasons why he missed the other 11 games?
KYLE FLOOD: Those are all personal issues with particular players and medical issues, and issues that I can’t discuss publicly.
Q. And then the program reinstated Leonte and the statement said that there were — after he accepted responsibility and agreed to conditions. Can you tell us what the conditions to Leonte’s reinstatement were? I know like Ian Thomas a couple years ago came back on a conditional reinstatement. Anything to Leonte’s conditions?
KYLE FLOOD: I would keep those conditions to Leonte and Ms. Hermann and myself. I don’t think I want to discuss them publicly.
Q. Is there any concern that there is a drug problem inside your program?
KYLE FLOOD: I take the issue of marijuana, drugs, alcohol addiction very seriously. 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.
Q. Just within the Carroo incident, it came out that he had a relationship with one of the recruiting ambassadors. Do you guys have policies regarding recruits or players having relationships with staff?
KYLE FLOOD: You mean students and other students on campus?
Q. Recruiting ambassadors specifically.
KYLE FLOOD: Well, my expectation with the players when they’re in the Hale Center is that at all times they conduct themselves in a professional way. I don’t begin to think that I can control the personal relationships of students with other students when they’re outside of this building. It’s not something that I ask them about or not something I get involved with.
Q. Has anything that’s happened made you take a look at just the whole program in general as far as the recruiting ambassador program?
KYLE FLOOD: I think we’ve got a good program.
Q. On Saturdays during the term of your suspension, what was your day like? What did you do? How did you follow the games, and also how frustrating was not it not be able to help out?
KYLE FLOOD: Really hard. Really hard. 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. 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.
Q. Just generally speaking, when a player is dismissed from the program, because there have been a few recently, what are the rules for the current players in terms of — I know you just said you can’t control everything, but in terms of current players fraternizing with dismissed players? Do you have a policy on that, and the dismissed players, are they allowed to be around the facilities at all, or what’s actually the rules to dismissal?
KYLE FLOOD: I don’t have a policy per se about that. In general when a player is dismissed from the program, they are not permitted to come back into the Hale Center. If they are still permitted on campus, which is a University decision, then we will set up their academic support in other parts of the campus so that they don’t have to come into the Hale Center.
In terms of trying to control the relationships of my players with current or former players, what I tell my players in general is make good decisions, help each other make good decisions, and to do that you want to be around the right people.
Q. What did you think of the job Norries Wilson did in your absence on game day?
KYLE FLOOD: I thought he did an excellent job. He’s somebody who has done the job before. I knew that that would help him. I thought he handled himself with class. I thought he made good decisions.
Q. Is there any part of the report that you’d like to refute or you’d like to speak about specifically?
KYLE FLOOD: I don’t think any of that helps our team move forward or helps our program move forward, so I guess the answer to your question is no. Ultimately I’m responsible to know the rule. There were consequences to that. Those have been fulfilled, and 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.