Investigation: Former Rutgers assistant coach didn’t bully player
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A law firm’s investigation has determined that a former assistant football coach for Rutgers did not bully a former player and there was no retaliation against the player.
The report issued Tuesday also found the university responded appropriately in the matter involving cornerback Jevon Tyree. The investigation was done by Saiber LLC, a firm with offices in Florham Park and Newark.
Tyree left the team last November after alleging that then-defensive coordinator Dave Cohen had verbally abused him and threatened to head-butt him during a spring study hall session at the school in New Brunswick. The player said the assistant then treated him unfairly once the season started.
The incident took place in front of teammates and an academic adviser, who reported it at a time when Rutgers was under national scrutiny following the release of videotapes showing then-basketball coach Mike Rice verbally and physically abusing his players while yelling homophobic slurs.
The investigation found Cohen did use inappropriate language toward Tyree, but also found head coach Kyle Flood took appropriate action within hours of being informed. It noted Flood immediately admonished Cohen and addressed the situation with the entire coaching staff.
Cohen was one of three football assistants fired after the season ended. He was hired this month as defensive line coach at Wake Forest.
Rutgers athletic officials referred calls seeking comment on the report to university officials.
"It was an unfortunate event, but we were happy to find that within hours of these issues being brought to the attention (of athletics officials), action was taken," university spokesman Pete McDonough said Tuesday. "It’s reassuring to know that our systems are working."
The firm interviewed nearly 40 people, including Tyree and his parents, Cohen and Flood and Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann. The firm also reviewed numerous relevant documents, including available telephone records and emails.
The investigation found that although this occurred before her appointment, Hermann took appropriate action immediately after learning of the situation in September 2013. It also found that telephone calls she received about that time from a person she believed was Tyree’s father were actually made by another unknown person.
A telephone number for Tyree’s parents rang unanswered Tuesday afternoon.
The Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, has assisted the family in this matter. He declined comment on the report when reached Tuesday.