Defensive coordinator Dave Cohen of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights yells to his team during a time out in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats in a game at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Cohen has been accused by cornerback Jevon Tyree who says he was verbally abused and threatened by the coach at a study session in April. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
The Rutgers Athletic Department is facing another bullying scandal as Jevon Tyree, a football player until he left the program this month, is accusing a prominent assistant coach of actions that ultimately led Tyree to feel "invisible" and verbally abused.
Tyree and his parents are seeking disciplinary action against first-year defensive coordinator Dave Cohen - a longtime friend of Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood - dating to an incident that occurred during a study hall last spring.
NJ.com first reported the story and said the Tyrees are alleging that Cohen called the 19-year-old redshirt freshman a number of vulgarities. Reached on his cellphone Friday night by the Home News Tribune, Tyree reiterated there was derogatory name-calling but did not mention specifics.
"He got in my face, threatened to head-butt me, called me soft, and said I'm a (Division III) player with a (Division I) scholarship," Tyree said. "I don't know if he was trying to make me feel low or if that was truly how he felt."
"I didn't think that situation would (continue) over time with me being at Rutgers. I thought that was (the end)," he said. "I know Coach Cohen has words and talks to players crazy, so that's how I took it. The witnesses that were there were like, 'Whoa! He just said all that!' I wasn't the only one there who had no clue why he said all that."
Rutgers released a statement Friday night through its athletic department in response to the allegations, and it denies the threat of a head-butt.
"The situation between Jevon Tyree and Dave Cohen took place in the spring and was dealt with immediately," the statement reads. "Cohen apologized the following day for his participation in the escalation of banter, which resulted in the use of inappropriate language. Kyle Flood reprimanded Cohen and addressed the situation immediately with the entire coaching staff.
"This was an isolated incident. At no time was there any threat of physical violence, which was verified by an academic counselor, who was present in the room."