Given the events that resulted in the Rutgers basketball program undergoing a major overhaul, of course there would be complications in regards to the hiring of Eddie Jordan as the new head coach.
The complication, according to a report from John Koblin of Deadspin: Jordan never graduated from Rutgers.
About that due diligence: Despite all the accolades he’s received from the university and despite the school’s many claims to the contrary, Jordan hasn’t actually finished his degree, according to the Rutgers registrar’s office. The office sent me a verification document, found below, that indicates that Jordan attended classes at Rutgers from 1973 to 1977. He went on to take more classes in 1978, 1981, and 1985. There was no degree listed in the document. I called up the registrar’s office on Thursday and asked for clarification.
“He did not receive a degree from us,” an official there told [Koblin].
This revelation comes after much was made about the return of a “native son” to Rutgers, a school that hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 1991. And even before the scandal that led to the firing of Mike Rice, Rutgers had a long way to go in its quest to be competitive upon entering the Big Ten in 2014.
In a report from ESPN New York, Jordan stated that in 1985 he completed the work needed to finish his studies but did not receive a diploma due to a registration issue. Did Jordan claim on his résumé to have graduated from Rutgers? Regardless of the answer to that question, how difficult is it for the school to check the claims on his résumé?
Many wondered if the lack of a bachelor’s degree could lead to Jordan losing his job, and the school answered that question in a statement issued Friday evening. Rutgers does not require a head coach to have a bachelor’s degree; the NCAA allows each individual school to set the requirements for its coaching positions.
While Rutgers was in error when it reported that Eddie Jordan had earned a degree from Rutgers University, neither Rutgers nor the NCAA requires a head coach to hold a baccalaureate degree. Eddie Jordan was a four-year letterman and was inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980. Rutgerssought Eddie for the head coach position as a target-of-opportunity hire based on his remarkable public career.
Jordan isn’t the first major college coach to be in such a position (before finding out having the degree wasn’t a requirement for the job), as both Sidney Lowe (then at NC State) and Clyde Drexler (Houston) had to finish up their undergraduate studies before accepting head coaching positions.
So as far as the school is concerned there’s no issue with Jordan not having his degree. But this entire situation could have been avoided if handled in a straightforward manner from the start. Just like the original viewing of the infamous practice tapes.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.