Nadir Barnwell, the junior at the center of the Kyle Flood grade-tampering investigation at Rutgers University, was one of several current players arrested on Thursday afternoon. Barnwell, a criminal justice major at the school, was deemed academically ineligible before the start of the season.
The group of current and former Rutgers football players and students were charged with assaulting another group, including one student in April. The original investigation stemmed from a handful of home invasions in the New Brunswick, New Jersey area earlier this year. All five players were removed from the team, the program announced on Saturday.
Here’s what you need to know about Barnwell and his arrest:
1. Barnwell Was One of Five Current Rutgers Players Charged on Thursday
Nadir Barnwell, a 20-year-old cornerback for the Scarlet Knights, was one of five current players charged on Thursday with assaulting a group of individuals during a recent, and unprovoked attack, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Anthony A. Caputo, director of the New Brunswick Police Department.
In addition to Barnwell, the current Rutgers players charged in the attack were named as: Ruhann Peele, 22, Rahzonn Gross, 20, Delon Stephenson, 22, and his brother Daryl Stephenson, 23. According to NJ Advance Media, Daryl Stephenson remains at large.
All five players were dismissed from the team on Saturday, just hours before Rutgers opened its regular season schedule against Norfolk State.
2. The Arrests Stem From an Investigation That Began in April
The arrest of the current and former Rutgers football players stems from a still-active investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Brunswick Police Department.
The investigation officially began after police were called to a home invasion in New Brunswick after three masked men reportedly entered the home, stealing an undisclosed amount of cash and marijuana from five students at gun points. Tejay Johnson, 23, a former Rutgers student was arrested shortly after and police discovered that he had been linked to several other home invasions, working with current and former Rutgers students.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office released a statement on Thursday, which was published by NJ Advance media, explaining:
s the investigation continued, police linked Johnson to a home invasion on Hartwell Street in New Brunswick on April 27, 2015.
Police determined that Johnson and Andre Boggs, 20, of Coatesville, Pa., forced their way into the home and, armed with a bat and a knife, robbed a student of approximately $900 and an undisclosed amount of marijuana.
They were arrested today on charges of robbery, burglary while armed, and conspiracy to commit an armed robbery.
Police ultimately determined that Johnson was also one of six individuals who surrounded a group of, at least, four others, including a Rutgers student, and assaulted them during an incident on April 25. Those six were charged with aggravated assault, riot and conspiracy to commit a riot.
3. Barnwell Is at the Center of the Investigation of Rutgers Coach Kyle Flood
This is not the first time Barnwell’s name has crept into Rutgers-related headlines. The junior cornerback is at the center of the university-led investigation into Kyle Flood, trying to determine if the coach broke school policy when contact a professor regarding Barnwell’s grades.
Officials said that Barnwell did not accumulate enough credits over the fall and spring semesters and was deemed ineligible before the summer session. The football player reportedly tried to plead his case but the professor notified Rutgers athletic academic support, writing “please ask (Barnwell) to stop badgering me.”
According to NJ Advance Media, two university officials claimed that Flood contacted a university professor despite being told by school’s academic support staff not to. “It’s about Kyle trying to circumvent the process and trying to get the kid eligible,” the source told the publication.
With the investigation still on-going Flood told media that he expects to coach in the Scarlet Knight’s opener against Norfolk State.
4. He Played in 10 Games Last Season
Barnwell, a native Pscataway, New Jersey, played in 10 games last season and started in six. He racked up 29 tackles, four pass-break-ups and one blocked kick. Barnwell entered his sophomore season as the top cornerback on the team’s depth chart.
His defensive contribution to the team was apparent as soon as his name was on the roster. Barnwell played in 12 games as a true freshman, starting four at corner. His best performance came in the Pinestripe Bowl against Notre Dame when he recorded six tackles, including one for a loss.
Barnwell had enrolled at Rutgers in January 2013 and participated in the program’s spring practices before his freshman season. In an almost ironic turn of events, Barnwell is actually a criminal justice major at Rutgers University.
5. Rutgers Has Had a Bevy of Scandals in Recent Years That Cost One Athletic Director His Job & Embattled Another
Barnwell is far from the first player or coach to draw the spotlight to the Rutgers athletic department. In fact, this is almost starting to become a trend.
In 2012, a video of Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was released showing him kicking and throwing basketballs at players, shoving them and screaming foul language and anti-gay slurs. That December the University announced that Rice would be suspended without pay for three games, fined $50,000 and ordered to undergo anger management counseling. He was fired on April 3, 2013.
Athletic director Tim Pernetti and assistant coach Jimmy Martelli also resigned in the wake of the Rice scandal. Rutgers named Julie Hermann as its new athletic director on May 15, 2013.
Just over a week after Hermann as hired, The Star-Ledger reported that players on the 1996 Tennessee women’s basketball team coached by Herman wrote a letter complaining that she verbally abused them. Herman responded to the allegations, telling reporters:
I don’t know what their motivation is 17 years later. Am I an intense coach? I’m absolutely an intense coach as many coaches are. But there is a big canyon between being super-intense and abuse. And this was not an abusive environment for these women.
According to a report by USA Today, Rutgers spent at least $2.3 million on settlements, search firms and crisis management for its series of scandals.