11 May 2013

Could it get any worse for Rutgers basketball?

As Michael Corleone and Silvio Dante once said, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." In this case, it's referring to the athletics department at Rutgers University, specifically the basketball program. Just when they thought they had put the controversy and the turbulence behind them with the Mike Rice fiasco and made a solid hire in Scarlet Knights legend Eddie Jordan, there's controversy surrounding that as well as it was broken by Deadspin that Jordan, despite claims to the contrary, never graduated from the school.

When announcing the hiring of Jordan, Rutgers understandably made a big deal about his ties to the university, mostly his exploits on the court in leading the Knights to the Final Four in 1976. But the school's bio also noted that he earned "a degree in health and physical education" in 1977. Other franchises which Jordan worked for also noted that graduated Rutgers in 1977.

There's only one problem, Jordan never earned a degree, not in 1977 nor in any other year. All it took was Deadspin reporter John Koblin contacting the registrar's office of Rutgers to find out that information. The office stated that Jordan did not receive a degree from the school, despite the fact that Jordan had taken some classes in 1978, 1981, and 1985.

For his part, Jordan said in an interview with ESPN that he did complete his school hours in 1985 but that he "wasn't registered right." That obviously does not jive with what the office of the registrar said, but Jordan says that his classes "were never recorded" and that he has seen a transcript and "will have to find it."

The university was forced to admit its own laziness by admitting that they were in error by claiming that Jordan had received a degree from the university and this is certainly another embarrassing episode for a program that has had a fiasco of an offseason. I mean, how hard was it to check whether or not Jordan had received a degree? To put something like that on his biography on the athletics' website, which has since been edited, without corroborating it is absolutely ridiculous.

As for whether or not the school should let go of Jordan, which they say they will not, it appears as that Jordan did fib on his resume, which he said he put down that he had graduated in 1985, which is not true unless one takes him at his word for what he said happened. I would say it is not as egregious as the famous example of George O'Leary's resume issues, including getting a master's degree from "NYU-Stony Brook University" and lettering in football at New Hampshire, neither of which were true, when he was hired at Notre Dame in 2001. That resulted in O'Leary resigning under heavy pressure. The school says that neither they nor the NCAA requires a coach to have a degree, but the school is requiring that Jordan's assistants do, ironically. I'm not necessarily sold that Jordan should be fired, but whoever wrote and promoted that Jordan did graduate without doing any corroboration probably should.

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