PISCATAWAY, NJ–Less than 24 hours after a season-ending 89-72 loss to Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, Rutgers has relieved Eddie Jordan of his head coaching duties.
The decision did not come as a surprise, but it will come at a significant cost to the university, who will likely be paying Jordan a large sum not to work, on top of whatever they pay his replacement.
Jordan’s firing closes the book on a disappointing tenure when the Scarlet Knights went 29-67 in his three seasons at the helm.
“I have decided that we need new leadership for our men’s basketball program,” athletic director Pat Hobbs said in a statement on Rutgers Athletics’ official website.
“Rutgers University is deeply appreciative of Coach Jordan’s efforts these past three years. He is and will always remain a valued member of the Rutgers Community.”
The statement goes on to say that a nation-wide search for Jordan’s successor “will begin immediately.”
Jordan drew an annual salary of $1.15 million in his final year in the job, and stands to be paid up to $2.1 million not to coach the team, on the condition that he must look for another job.
If he finds another job during the remaining two years of the contract, his income will count against the money Rutgers owes him.
Jordan was due a $100,000 “retention incentive” if he lasted until June 30, and he was due a big raise, from $550,000 per year to $825,000 per year, in mid-April.
Jordan is the third major firing in the school’s embattled athletics department in recent months.
University President Robert Barchi dismissed the school’s football coach and athletic director in November, choosing to fire both “without cause.” That decision resulted in similarly favorable terms for the two well-paid employees fired, as we reported.
Jordan was hired as the Scarlet Knights’ head coach on April 18, 2013. He replaced former head coach Mike Rice, who was fired in the wake of the scandal that arose after a video leaked of Rice physically and verbally abusing players during practice.
Jordan was a popular name among fans. He was a star shooting guard on the Rutgers team that reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament in 1976. After his collegiate career, he spend eight years in the NBA playing for the Cavaliers, Nets, Lakers, and Trail Blazers.
After retiring as a player, he began his coaching career as an assisstant at Boston College. He worked his way up the ranks and eventually became the head coach of the Sacramento Kings in 1997.
He spent nine years as an NBA head coach, compiling a 257-343 record. During his pro coaching career, he coached star players like Allen Iverson, Gilbert Arenas, and Antwan Jamison.
After several players transferred from the program following Rice’s dismissal, Jordan began his Rutgers coaching career in the 2013-14 season, during the team’s first and only season in the American Athletic Conference (AAC).
Rutgers finished that season with a 12-21 record, and went 5-13 in AAC play. While the Scarlet Knights beat South Florida to advance to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, they were eliminated after a brutal 92-31 defeat at the hands of Louisville.
Following the season, even more players left the program as forward Craig Brown and guards Jerome Seagears and D’Von Campbell were granted transfer releases.
Jordan’s second season at the helm was Rutgers’ first in the Big Ten, and the team seemingly regressed in a big way, struggling to a 10-22 record, with a meager 2-16 mark in conference play.
Despite the poor win-loss record, the 2014-15 season held Jordan’s highlight as Rutgers coach. On January 11, 2015, Rutgers hosted Wisconsin, then ranked fourth in the nation, at the RAC.
In a stunning upset, the Scarlet Knights defeated the eventual national runners-up 67-62, signaling Rutgers’ first win against a top five team in program history.
After the final buzzer, the fans stormed the court to celebrate the win. The head coach was visibly emotional during his postgame press conference, saying through tears, “I’m happy for the state, our faculty and everyone who supports us…I love my school, I love this community and I’m happy for it.”
Unfortunately, the winning ways did not last long, as Rutgers dropped every game after, ending the season on a 15-game losing streak.
The Scarlet Knights were eliminated in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, dropping a 80-66 contest to Minnesota.
The trend of players transferring continued after the season, as guard Kerwin Okoro and forward Junior Etou both departed the program. Etou was the third option on the offense behind departing seniors Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack, so his loss was a significant one.
Despite adding highly touted freshman point guard Corey Sanders last offseason, the 2015-16 season was no kinder to Jordan. The Scarlet Knights dealt with a four-game suspension of Sanders and countless injuries to the frontcourt, limping to a 7-25 overall record with a 1-18 mark in Big Ten action.
The lone conference win came in Rutgers’ final regular season game, at home against a shorthanded Minnesota squad.
The team lost its first 17 Big Ten contests, and the conference losing streak reached an unfathomable 32 games, including the season-ending 15-game losing streak from the year before.
At this point, there is no timetable for the conclusion of the search for a new head coach.
AD Pat Hobbs is conducting his second head coaching search at Rutgers, having hired Chris Ash to replace former football head coach Kyle Flood just months earlier.