By Rachel Gobep, Marc Weems and Morgan Petronelli
Youngstown State University Co-Defensive Coordinator Richard McNutt Jr. was ordered to a five-day unpaid suspension on Sept. 10 following an internal investigation into alleged domestic violence. He will miss the third game of the season on Sept. 15 as part of the suspension.
According to a Jambar report, McNutt Jr. was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 24.
YSU’s Office of Human Resources supported by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Policy Development began an investigation on Aug. 7 into allegations that McNutt may have engaged in domestic violence.
They investigated “the off-campus behavior of McNutt and possible policy, reporting, and/or contract violations which might have occurred relative to this issue.”
The recommendations from the Office of Human Resources include that following McNutt Jr.’s five-day suspension, he may return to work and maintain his position as assistant coach under the conditions that no acts of domestic violence or any other violent behavior occur on or off campus.
The university obtained copies of an incident/offense report from the Canfield Police Department from March 22, April 4 and April 7. They also obtained a copy of a Civil Order of Protection issued by the Mahoning County Court on April 19.
According to a police report, police were dispatched to McNutt Jr.’s estranged wife’s home after an alleged altercation occurred while he was picking up his children for visitation.
The reports states during an argument, McNutt Jr. slapped a phone from his wife’s hand and later squeezed it when he saw her recording him being physical with one of his children.
The wife’s hand “appeared to have small scratches” and was “slightly swollen,” according to the police report.
No arrest was made and no charges were brought as a result of the police reports. Also in the report, McNutt’s wife requested that the incident only be documented and that no police report be filed.
The university became aware of the documents during the course of its internal investigation, according to the report by YSU’s Office of Human Resources.
The report also said that there is “a common belief that when law enforcement does not arrest and/or bring charges of domestic violence against an individual, no further obligation exists on the part of the university. However, the triggering event for reporting or taking some type of action relative to domestic violence should not be whether law enforcement makes an arrest or brings charges against an individual.”
The university’s investigation found that McNutt Jr. had “generally informed” Strollo and Pelini about his “marital issues, his ongoing divorce and conflicts between him and his wife regarding child visitation.”
The report said that when discussing his career with YSU President Jim Tressel, McNutt talked about the “possible breakdown of his marriage.”
Strollo, Pelini and Tressel “encouraged Mr. McNutt to avoid any conflicts with his wife and to focus on his work.”
The investigation found although the Athletic Department staff were aware of McNutt Jr.’s marital issues, there was no indication of any domestic violence issues.
McNutt Jr. “self-reported” in early 2018 to head coach Bo Pelini who in turn reported to Athletic Director Ron Strollo. The report states “Pelini counseled McNutt Jr. against engaging in further domestic confrontation.”
Through its investigation, the university “reviewed the facts and application of the relevant rules, laws and contract language, and found there were no clear violations of university policy, contract language or law regarding University personnel.”
The report said: “However, while there were no clear violations, the University’s Workplace Violence policy provides guidance on how the university should respond to potential indicators of violence.”
The athletic department staff will also undergo additional training on sexual assault, domestic and workplace violence, along with additional management and coaching training.
The report also addresses the fact that there does not seem to be clear policies regarding who must report potential or alleged domestic violence incidents.
The Office of Human Resources said it will collaborate with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Policy Compliance to define the reporting responsibility “of all employees and managers” at the university. It will also provide updated training on sexual assault, domestic violence and workplace violence.
According to the report, witnesses were immediately identified and interviewed.
Those interviewed include Athletic Director Ron Strollo; Head Football Coach Bo Pelini; Assistant Football Coach Richard K. McNutt Jr.; Director of Football Operations John Murphy; Associate Athletic Director Elaine Jacobs; Associate Athletic Director Emily Wollet; Assistant Director of Football Operations Rollen Smith; and LaToya McNutt, wife of Richard McNutt.
The university issued a statement on the internal investigation on Tuesday.
The statement said McNutt Jr. will “complete a course of training and professional development as part of the university’s employee assistance program.”
“YSU remains committed to creating a culture across the campus community in which violence of any kind is not tolerated,” the statement said. “When such incidents do occur on or off campus, the university must hold itself, its employees and its students accountable. The university pledges continued diligence and fairness as we work for a safe, inclusive and respectful campus community environment.”
The Jambar reached out to McNutt Jr. and he has yet to respond. He is expected to return to work on Sept. 16.