NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers is set to introduce Los Angeles Lakers assistant Eddie Jordan as the new coach of the Scarlet Knights’ scandal-marred basketball program.
On Monday, the athletic department announced a basketball press conference for 4:30 EDT Tuesday where Jordan is expected to be introduced.
The university’s board of governors will meet earlier in the afternoon to sign off on the five-year contract that Jordan reached last week. The official hiring will come 20 days after Mike Rice was fired after a video showed him grabbing and throwing a ball at players, and uttering anti-gay slurs during practices across his three seasons.
The scandal also forced former athletic director Tim Pernetti, the university’s interim general counsel and assistant coach Jimmy Martelli to resign.
Jordan, 58, played for the Scarlet Knights from 1973-77, and was the point guard on the team that went to the Final Four in 1976. He interviewed for the position in 2010, as well, when Rice eventually landed the job.
He’ll have plenty of work to do. Rutgers went 15-16 last season, and since the schedule ended, five Scarlet Knights have asked to leave the program. The latest is starting guard Eli Carter, who broke his leg late in the season.
The NCAA on Monday said it will work with the receiving institutions to process each transfer request, including waiver requests to forego sitting out a season. Those will be judged a case-by-case basis.
“NCAA staff is prepared to move quickly in reviewing any request it receives,” the NCAA said in an email to The Associated Press.
Rice did not make it to postseason play in his three years, and Rutgers hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1991. Jordan’s first season will be Rutgers’ last in the Big East, and the Scarlet Knights will join the Big Ten in 2014-15.
Jordan’s selection has been well received at the university, which has been embarrassed by the video’s fallout, and had some donors threaten to cut off funding. The university subsequently is reviewing all of its sports and suspended men’s lacrosse coach Brian Brecht indefinitely on Friday for allegations of verbal abuse.
Former Rutgers teammate Mike Dabney said Jordan faces a major challenge.
“There is no doubt this is a double-edged sword but we don’t need to turn the reins over to another stranger,” Dabney said in a telephone interview with The AP. “I think a Rutgers guy is the right person at the right time. This is not going to be a sprint back to respectability for the program.”
Dabney, now a mortgage loan officer with Wells Fargo Bank, described Jordan as a hard-working competitor. When he lived in Portland and Jordan came there with the Sacramento Kings, the two would get together for lunch. It was always a short lunch. Jordan had to get back to break down videotape.
“It is going to be a marathon,” Dabney added, “and hopefully the fan base will understand that and the people will be more supporting and those who are supporting and donating to the program understand it is not going to be an overnight situation.”
Tom Young, who coached Jordan at Rutgers and later hired him as an assistant , said his former pupil should not have a problem making the transition from the NBA to college.
“What they have to do is get players,” Young said. “He has to get a good recruiter, somebody who can get him some good players. His personality will help, but he can’t get on the road enough as a head coach. Having said that, if he does, he’ll turn that program around.”
Young believes Jordan has a chance to keep some of the players who have asked to transfer, if they give him the chance.
“Players today at that level want to go to the NBA,” Young said. “Well here comes a guy who has been a head coach three times and he knows more about NBA basketball than most. That to me is more impressive to a high school kid or a kid who has been at Rutgers a year or two.”
Jordan has been a head coach in the NBA with Sacramento, Washington and Philadelphia, posting a 257-343 record. He played in the NBA from 1977-84, winning a championship with the Lakers in 1982.
Besides the Lakers, Jordan also served as an assistant coach with Sacramento and New Jersey, helping the Nets reach the NBA Finals twice (2002, 2003).
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