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Rutgers readies to start investigation of football program with law firm help

Rutgers University hired a law firm that deals exclusively with potential NCAA rules violations to kick off an investigation of the football program.

According to nj.com, the firm is conducting a review of the University's football program following several recent off-field issues.

Peter McDonough, Rutgers' senior vice president for External Affairs, confirmed the investigation in a statement on Tuesday.

"Rutgers has retained outside counsel with expertise in NCAA infractions to help identify any potential rules violations,'' McDonough told nj.com. "This is an ongoing and rigorous process that helps us to identify any shortcomings, to self-report them as required by NCAA rules and to remedy them as best practices demand.''

Richard Evrard, an attorney for Bond, Schoeneck & King, verified that his firm was approached by Rutgers to investigate and advise the University on potential NCAA rules violations in August, according to nj.com.

They were hired soon after the University asked another law firm, Saiber, to examine an incident regarding head coach Kyle Flood possibly having improper contact with a faculty member with an interest to alter the records of a student-athlete's academic performance.

Evrard, who once worked for the NCAA, will collaborate with his legal team to fashion a final report for Rutgers that will determine whether or not NCAA rules have been breached, according to nj.com. Following the release of the report, the NCAA will be able to “apply penalties and corrective actions” advocated within the report or make a decision on their own.

“Questions about the recruiting ambassador program surfaced when it was revealed that the victim in an altercation outside the Hale Center worked for the Rutgers football staff in a role that includes greeting prospective student-athletes on game-day,” according to nj.com. “Police say she had a romantic relationship with Carroo, one of the team's best players before he was suspended indefinitely by Flood.”

NJ Advance Media was informed by an official with knowledge of the investigation that it is not against NCAA policies for an athlete to have a romantic relationship with a member of the student recruitment staff. But in this case, it was an issue because the relationship was between a recruiting ambassadors and a prospective student-athlete.

The Rutgers football team's drug policy was mentioned in court Sept. 25, according to nj.com.

Backup fullback, Lloyd Terry, was dismissed from the team after being charged with armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed burglary. He also told police officials that he grew toward an addiction to marijuana while studying at Rutgers, said Christopher Kuberiet, deputy first assistant prosecutor at Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

Terry informed authorities about his multiple failed drug tests taken while still on the football team, Kuberiet said. According to nj.com, a spokesman for Rutgers Athletics told NJ Advance Media that federal privacy laws precluded University officials from commenting.

The University was called to acknowledge what it called a "comprehensive'' drug education and treatment policy for football players, which has been in effect since 2008, according to nj.com. The team's policy describes a series of disciplinary measures to take before a fourth offense results in dismissal from the team.

"The institution is responsible not just for understanding what rules were potentially violated, but also to present situations that it has made some corrective measures. That's as important as anything in the higher-education field,” Evrard told nj.com. “So I think that's part of what our role is, which is to give the institution some guidance as to what corrective actions need to be taken in order to fix the problem.''

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