Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Closer: Rutgers Makes Questionable Hire in Replacing Rice

In last week's "Sports Biz Report" (found here), I mentioned why Rutgers found itself in the news yet again. Eddie Jordan, the new head basketball coach for the Big 10 bound Scarlett Knights, does not have a college degree. Yes, it is not unprecedented for a D-I coach to not have a college degree, but why shouldn't he?

Jordan spent four years at Rutgers, was honored in 2004 as a member of Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni (definition of alumni found here), and has been an active member of the Rutgers family for over 35 years. Also, the current job descriptions for assistant coach positions at Rutgers lists a Bachelors degree as required education. My main issue here is that this hire sets a clear precedent for STUDENT-athletes, other coaching positions, and Rutgers athletics. Yes, Eddie Jordan went to the NBA, and probably knew he was going to throughout his time at Rutgers, but he didn't leave early. By hiring a former student-athlete that left the University without completing his degree, Rutgers is telling its athletes that they have no problem with them not going to class or taking their exams, and leaving the University with no diploma. Better yet, they will hire you later!

Jason Whitlock from Fox Sports said it best, "An academic-athletic system comfortably indifferent to the education of the under-educated athletes it relies on to fuel a multi-billion-dollar television contract was bound to produce a high-profile coaching candidate equally indifferent about his own education." In an age where conference realignment rules college athletics, academics continue to be the second thought. The Mike Rice scandal could not have come at a worse time for Rutgers; the hire of Eddie Jordan was supposed to be the perfect "internal" step for a department moving into the Big 10. The real problem here is that ONCE AGAIN the student-athletes have the most to lose. With less than 10% of college athletes playing their sport professionally, their education is so incredibly important.

Men's basketball players at Rutgers will lack that role model needed to push them through those long nights of homework during the season after a five hour day of training. Also, how can Eddie Jordan be taken seriously while recruiting potential student-athletes when he himself never graduated. In Rutgers history, only 12 basketball players have went on to play in the NBA. Yes, a move to the Big 10 will bump up their recruiting, and possibly lead to new NBA prospects, but of the 13 men on these teams, the majority of them will need to make their living doing something other than professional basketball.

I am not purposing the firing of Eddie Jordan. I do think that this looks terrible for college athletics and Rutgers University, at a time when they don't need anymore bad press.


Kevin Murray is a sophomore Sport Management Major at Drexel University. He is originally from Havertown, PA, a small suburb of Philadelphia. He worked in the Drexel Sport Management Department as a Research Assistant focusing on the Penn State scandal, equity in collegiate sports, and Title IX.  Currently, Kevin is the SMTSU Treasurer and Drexel Athletics Marketing Intern.  You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinj_murray.

Connect with Kevin Murray on LinkedIn.


  1. Personally, I can't stand Whitlock. The extremes that he takes things to are pretty ridiculous and he always finds a way to wrap race into everything. I only partially agree with the quote you pulled from him because it wasn't near a multi-billion dollar industry back when Jordan played.

  2. Some thoughts... Who are you to say what kind of role model Eddie Jordan will be to the players? Also, what percentage of D-I college basketball coaches bug their players about homework? I don't know the exact answer, but that number can't be too high. And why would they? There are academic advisers hired specifically by the athletic department to deal with the secondary details, like education. Jordan, along with every other college coach, is hired to win games and be responsible for his team's APR requirements. If he's able to do that, there's no reason why he isn't qualified to coach the team.

  3. I never said that he will be a "bad" role model, simply that he most likely will not push his athletes in the correct direction. Yes, his goal as a coach is to win games, but it does not follow the "NCAA’s mission to integrate athletics into the fabric of higher education." (directly from their website) I know it is quite close-minded of me to think that a college coach would as you say "bug his players about homework", but I would at least hope that the coach himself could recognize the importance of a college degree to his athletes, especially those with no or little hope of long-term success at the professional level. To claim that you have completed the course work for a degree but not actually do any pushing to get that degree shows how much he values an education.