Jordan to return to New Jersey for more talks with Rutgers
Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Eddie Jordan is returning to New Jersey for what might be a final round of talks with Rutgers about taking over its beleaguered basketball program.
A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that Jordan was going to travel from Los Angeles on Wednesday, and planned to meet with Rutgers officials Thursday in an attempt to reach an agreement on a contract to replace the fired Mike Rice.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak for Jordan, who met with Rutgers interim athletic director Carl Kirschner over the weekend.
Jordan is expected to talk with Robert Barchi, the university president who has been under fire since a videotape was aired two weeks ago showing Rice kicking and shoving his players at practice, while uttering gay slurs at times. The conduct took place over Rice's three seasons as coach, with the videotape being a compilation of clips.
Jordan didn't return a message left at his home by The Associated Press and the university had no comment on Wednesday about contract talks.
The scandal led to the resignations of athletic director Tim Pernetti, a top university counsel and assistant coach Jimmy Martelli.
Kirschner is running the athletic department while the search for a new athletic director gets going. The university decided to let him search for a new basketball coach, fearing that the program would lose too many players without a new coach.
The sense of urgency for the Scarlet Knights is well founded.
Three players from last season's sub .500 team - Jerome Seagears, Malik Kone and Vincent Garrett - have asked for transfer releases. Swingman Mike Poole also is looking to leave, according to multiple reports.
Seagears had the most playing time among the four, starting 19 games and averaging 6.5 points.
Seagears, however, might stay if he likes the new hire.
Jordan has the pedigree. He led Rutgers to its only Final Four trip in 1976 and is the university's all-time leader in assists and steals. He also has NBA playing and coaching experience.
Jordan has been a head coach in the NBA with Sacramento, Washington and Philadelphia, posting a 257-343 record. He played in the league 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.
The scandal at Rutgers probably could have been avoided had Pernetti fired Rice when he first received a copy of the videotape provided by Eric Murdoch, a former administrator on Rice's staff, in late November.
Pernetti reviewed it and discussed his options with university and independent counsel. After being advised there was no cause to fire Rice, the former Rutgers tight end opted to suspend Rice for three games, fined him $75,000 and ordered him to take anger management counseling.
Barchi agreed with the penalty without looking at the videotape, which was eventually aired by ESPN two weeks ago.
When Barchi watched the video he ordered Rice fired and asked for Pernetti's resignation.
The video showed Rice firing basketballs at players, hitting them in the back, legs, feet and shoulders. It also shows him grabbing players by their jerseys and yanking them around the court. Rice can also be heard yelling obscenities and using anti-gay slurs.