Rutgers athletics is in the headlines for the all the wrong reasons once again. Less than a year after former basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for his verbal abuse of players, and only a few months after athletic director Julie Hermann became the subject of a nationwide controversy for her treatment of players and assistants while she was the head women's volleyball coach at Tennessee, a Scarlet Knights football player has come forward claiming he was bullied by a member of the program's staff.
Cornerback Jevon Tyree says he was verbally abused and threatened by defensive coordinator Dave Cohen at a study session in April. The incident, according to NJ.com's Dan Duggan, happened in front of other players and a tutor and eventually led to the 19-year-old quitting the team.
"He was just trying to really make me feel as if I was soft," Tyree said. "He got all up in my face. Coach Cohen has a lisp, so he was in my face telling me he'll head-butt me, and he was kind of spitting in my face as he was saying it. I was just pulling my head back, looking at him like, 'Is this guy out of his mind? Is he crazy?' "
In a statement released by the university on Friday night, Rutgers said the situation was "dealt with immediately." It claimed that head coach Kyle Flood reprimanded Cohen and later "initiated a meeting with Tyree and his parents to address their concerns and his future with the team." The statement also noted that "Hermann spoke to Tyree's father following the meeting with Flood and confirmed that the matter was resolved to his satisfaction."
However, the Tyree family disputes that many of the events in the release ever occurred, most notably the call between Hermann and Tyree's father, Mark.
"I never talked to her. That is insane," Mark Tyree said. "My mother has passed and I would put my hand on a stack of Bibles in her goodness. That's ridiculous she would even say that. That's scary."The Tyree family has sought disciplinary action against Cohen, who was the head coach at Hofstra from 2006-09. Tyree said he was ostracized from the team and quit after a wide receiver turned defensive back passed him on the depth chart. The Scarlet Knights are 5-3 in the 2013 season and host Cincinnati in Week 12.