Piscataway, NJ—Rutgers University can’t seem to catch a break.
The nation began to pay attention to bullying in September 2010 after Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman killed himself after discovering that his roommate had secretly used a web cam to stream Clementi having sex with another man and posted it over the Internet. In April of this year, former Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was fired from the university after a video surfaced of Rice physically and verbally abusing players on the Scarlet Knights basketball team. Looking to turn the page, Rutgers is hit yet again with another bullying controversy. According to an NJ.com report, former Rutgers defensive back Jevon Tyree alleges that Rutgers defensive coordinator Dave Cohen called him a’p*ssy’ and threatened to head-butt him.
“He was just trying to really make me feel as if I was soft,” Tyree told NJ.com.
According to a Rutgers statement on the incident, the situation between Jevon Tyree and Dave Cohen took place in the spring and was dealt with immediately. Cohen apologized the following day for his participation in the escalation of banter, which resulted in the use of inappropriate language. Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood reprimanded Cohen and addressed the situation immediately with the entire coaching staff.
According to the school,Tyree voluntarily left the team on November 6th and is reportedly still taking classes at the University.
Before nabbing the Rutgers defensive coordinator gig, Dave Cohen became Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers coach at Western Michigan University in 2010 where the Broncos defense boasted its fifth ever MAC Defensive Player of the Year. Before Western Michigan, Cohen, a Long Island native, got his dream job in 2006 and became head football coach at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. That dream was short lived after Hofstra decided to drop its football program in 2009.
A former player who played for Cohen while at Hofstra who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Source that the accusations against Cohen at Rutgers seemed plausible. “The traits all sound like Dave Cohen to be honest with you,” the former player said by phone. “We’ve seen cases like that in the locker room and on the practice field.”
“I’ve seen him get in the guys face, taking it outside the game of football and kind of taking it personal as far as name calling players and even [verbally] attacking player’s family members [by name calling] as far as calling players ‘f****ts.’ I remember vividly on the practice field, him calling players ‘f****ts’ and ‘b*tches.’ So cases like that occur. More intense cases occurred behind closed doors as far as one-on-one meetings with players and what players would tell me [things] after meeting with Dave Cohen in private and how it went down [the meeting] after it occurred. Trust me, I believe that too, because I’ve had closed meetings and private meetings with Dave Cohen and similar stuff went down like that to the [point where] only thing next that would have happened was us getting physical.”
While that relationship between coach and player was not a good one, Cohen had his share of supporters like Luke Bonus. Bonus played all four years as linebacker at Hofstra under Cohen. A native of Medford, New Jersey, Bonus said he was out at dinner with his old high school coaches when they broke the news to him about the latest Rutgers incident. “My [high school] coach turned the phone on and I saw a picture of Coach Cohen and I just couldn’t believe it,” Bonus told The Source by phone. “But in this day and age, I can believe it especially with what has been happening in the NFL and it seems like bullying is the new thing right now.”
Bonus was a walk-on freshman at Hofstra and won the respect of Cohen by working hard and earning his keep on the team. Bonus was named team captain and played in the team’s last season of existence in 2009, where they finished with a 5-6 record and a 52-38 win against UMass. He admits that Cohen was a tough, old-school, hard-nosed coach that expected a lot of his players—himself included. “When I was a freshman, I had a tough go at it. Like all freshman do, I was a walk on and I had to earn my spot like everyone else. Once we got to know each other, it didn’t take long for us to get to know each other. It was a great relationship. I was his right hand man and we were real tight. I understood he’s a hard-nosed coach. He always was.”
“It’s a shame I had to see him on there because I love Coach Cohen, he’s a great man and I think he’s a great coach and we put in a lot of time together. It was a shame I had to see him in that situation right there, right then.”
Bonus said that he reached out to Cohen via text message and let him know that he had his support.
Rutgers football is currently 5-4 and is 2-3 in the American Athletic Conference. The Scarlet Knights lost 52-17 at home on Saturday to Cincinnati. Cincinnati quarterback Brendon Kay threw for a career-high 405 yards against the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers defense allowed a season-high 619 yards in the loss. Rutgers will take the field against the University of Central Florida on Thursday.