Rutgers’ Jordan embraces role as coach, pupil
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Eddie Jordan’s eyes light up. He’s talking about homework.
Jordan is 58 years old, perhaps triple the age of his classmates and perhaps enjoying the work three times as much as they do.
He’s nearing the end of a roundabout path he took to get a college degree. It started in the mid-1970s, back when he was a basketball player here. It continued when he played for the New Jersey Nets and came back to take a class each summer. “I always wanted to get my degree,” Jordan says. “I’ve always had that intention.”
Rutgers hired Jordan as its new head coach in April following the ouster of Mike Rice, who had been captured on video throwing basketballs at players’ heads and screaming vulgarities and slurs at them. When the Scarlet Knights announced Jordan’s hiring, they incorrectly referred to him as a Rutgers graduate, yet another piece of bad publicity for a school reeling from a scandal.
So the new coach announced he’d be getting that degree after all. Jordan signed up for a summer class, on top of his daily coaching duties and recruiting responsibilities. His degree will be in labor studies, most likely. Jordan, who has remained Rutgers’ career leader in assists and steals since his playing days in the ’70s, hopes to finish all of his requirements by this time next year.
“Because I’ve had life experiences working, it made sense to do something that I liked,” Jordan says. “I’ve already had a class that I really, really loved. If there was an A+, I think (I would have gotten it). I got an A.”
He smiles. Those around him occasionally tease him — assistant coach Van Macon says the staff “busts his chops every once in awhile” — and find it funny when he talks about going home to do his reading for class. Later, they’ll admit they admire what he’s doing, and they have no idea how he has the time.
Fixing the Rutgers men’s basketball program is a pretty time-consuming task. The program has missed every NCAA tournament since Jordan was last in town as … [For more on Rutgers' Eddie Jordan embraces role as coach and pupil, click here.]