Family former Rutgers player demands outside investigation after alleged bullying

November 18, 2013 5:24:28 AM PST
The family of a former Rutgers football player who claims he was bullied by a coach is calling for outside investigation. Jevon Tyree quit the team after he says Defensive Coordinator Dave Cohen verbally abused and threatened him. Tyree says Cohen called him derogatory names during a study hall session.

According to the website, Jevon, the cousin of Giants Super Bowl 42 hero David Tyree, says Cohen used two profane terms in front of teammates and an academic adviser, who reported the issue. The player said the assistant then treated him unfairly once the season started.

Tyree says the incident took place last April, the same month Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice was fired and the athletic director resigned for a previous bullying incident.

In his first interview since, Rice told ABC's Robin Roberts he regrets the now infamous incident.

Asked, 'Do you think that you were a bully?', Rice replied, "There were some actions that were certainly, that were bullying, yes".

Now Tyree's family believes that coach Cohen deserves the same disciplne as Rice. His father Mark told the Star-Ledger: "I really think disciplinary action should happen, almost to the point where he should get fired. That's how bad it is, especially for the damage he's done to Jevon."

"Certainly it would affect his self-esteem and increase the risk of him developing depression and maybe something even worse," said psychiatrist Daniel Bober.

In a statement, Rutgers said the incident had been addressed immediately in April, that in September the Tyrees agreed they were satisfied. Jevon Tyree left the program on Nov. 6th.

The university says Cohen was reprimanded by head coach Kyle Flood the nest day and apologized. The school denied any physical threat.

This matter comes less than a year after Rice was fired for physically and verbally abusing players. The scandal last year also caused Tim Pernetti to resign as athletic director along with a high-ranking university attorney.

It also led the school to review the way its coaches treat players and eventually led to the suspension of the men's lacrosse coach Brian Brecht for alleged verbal abuse of players. The university eventually found no criminal or university policy violations and reinstated him.

Tyree failed to get playing time this season despite numerous injuries in the secondary. His decision to leave the team might have been influenced recently when Flood decided to switch a wide receiver to defensive back because of the lack of depth at the spot. The receiver, Ruhann Peele, played in the next game on defense.

The university said Mark Tyree, the player's father, contacted new athletic director Julie Hermann six months later to discuss Jevon's role on the team and how coaching decisions were made. During the conversation with Hermann, Tyree's father reintroduced the March situation, the university said.

Hermann then talked to Flood, who apprised her of the situation and how it was addressed.

The university said Flood initiated an additional meeting with Tyree and his parents to address their concerns and his future with the team. The following morning, Sept. 17, Tyree informed Flood of his intention to remain with the program.

Hermann spoke to Tyree's father after the meeting with Flood and confirmed the matter was resolved to his satisfaction, the university said.

Mark Tyree told he has never spoken to Hermann and his family initiated the additional meetings with Flood.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.