Eddie Jordan was officially named as the new head coach of a Rutgers men's basketball program recently rocked by revelations of player abuse under predecessor Mike Rice.
Jordan, a former star player for the Scarlet Knights who owns nine years of head coaching experience at the NBA level with three different teams, was formally introduced by interim athletic director Carl Kirschner at a press conference on Tuesday. Kirschner is stepping in for Tim Pernetti, who resigned from his post shortly after the disclosure of video footage that showed Rice yelling slurs while also shoving, grabbing and throwing basketballs at players.
"I have come to know Eddie Jordan as an open, honest and terrific person to lead our men's basketball program," Kirschner said. "Rutgers is very fortunate to have Eddie return to his alma mater to restore pride in the program."
Jordan, who went on to a seven-year playing career in the NBA after graduating from Rutgers in 1977, compiled a 257-343 record as a head coach over nine seasons with Sacramento, Washington and Philadelphia. This will be his first entry into the collegiate ranks as a head coach, though he served two stints as an assistant at his alma mater from 1984-85 and 1988-92. This past season he was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.
He takes over a Rutgers program that has endured six consecutive losing seasons and last reached the NCAA Tournament in 1991, and has had several players from last year's 14-18 team requesting release from their scholarships in the wake of the Rice scandal.
"This is going to be a challenge, but a wonderful challenge," said Jordan. "There is a lot of work to be done. I would like to thank the Rutgers University Board of Governors, the Board of Trustees, President Robert Barchi and Interim Director of Athletics Carl Kirschner for their confidence. The support in and around the Rutgers community has been tremendous. It will definitely help to form the foundation of our program moving forward."
Rutgers enjoyed far more success during Jordan's days as a player, with the now 58-year-old helping lead the Scarlet Knights to their lone Final Four appearance in 1976. He tallied 1,632 points over his four collegiate seasons and still ranks as Rutgers' all-time leader in both assists (585) and steals (220).
Jordan's contract is worth five years with a guaranteed compensation of $6,250,000.
"Without question, Eddie Jordan is part of our basketball program's most cherished memories -- and he is here now to help us make a bright future for the Scarlet Knights," said Barchi. "He is passionate about basketball and committed to winning, yet he also knows our university's values and our commitment to promoting an atmosphere of respect and dignity for everyone. He is the right leader at a pivotal moment for the Rutgers men's basketball program."
Rice was fired on April 3, one day after ESPN's Outside the Lines program aired video of him berating a number of players during practices. He had previously been suspended for three games and fined $50,000 by the university in December for his actions, but the disclosure of the incident quickly created a firestorm of criticism of the Rutgers athletic department for its handling of the situation.
Pernetti, who was responsible for the disciplinary measure imposed upon Rice, announced his resignation on April 5.