AP Source: L.A. Lakers assistant coach Eddie Jordan agrees to coach Rutgers basketball

By Tom Canavan

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 18 2013 4:00 p.m. MDT

NEWARK, N.J. — Rutgers is turning to one of its greatest players to lead the basketball program past an embarrassing coaching scandal and into its future with the Big Ten Conference.

A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Los Angeles Lakers assistant Eddie Jordan has reached a tentative agreement to take over as coach of the scandal-marred program.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the school has not officially announced the deal with its all-time leader in assists and steals.

The person said the two sides hammered out the five-year contract after Jordan returned to New Jersey Wednesday. The deal needs to be reviewed by the university's board of governors, and an official press conference might not happen until next Tuesday.

The agreement comes just more than two weeks after Rutgers fired Mike Rice after a video was aired that showed him grabbing and kicking players at practice, and using anti-gay slurs. The video was compiled from recordings taken during Rice's three years as coach.

Athletic director Tim Pernetti, a university lawyer and assistant coach Jimmy Martelli also resigned amid the scandal.

A board member familiar with the tentative contract said it has some legal issues that have to be addressed by the board. The member did not think the legal issues would be a problem, perhaps just a delay.

The board is not scheduled to meet again until June 20. A telephone conference call can be held to handle urgent issues, but board members need 48 hours' notice to do so. A board member who asked not to be identified had not received such notice by noon on Thursday.

Jordan was not immediately available for comment and Rutgers spokesman Jason Baum said the university had no comment.

Jordan's first job will be to stabilize the roster. Jerome Seagears, Malik Kone and Vincent Garrett have asked for transfers and swingman Mike Poole reportedly is looking to leave a team that posted a 15-16 record last season.

Forward Wally Judge said it's good to know a new coach seemingly is in place.

"This is a step forward," Judge said in a telephone interview with The AP. "I know the past will still be brought up and people will want to talk about Mike Rice. But this is a sign the program has moved past that."

Brooklyn Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo, who led New Jersey rival Seton Hall to the Final Four in 1989, said hiring Jordan was a great move for Rutgers.

"I love Eddie. I think Eddie will be fantastic," Carlesimo said Thursday. "I remember, that's how old I am, I know when Eddie was playing at Rutgers. But he's an excellent coach, I think it's a great, great hire by Rutgers and I think it'll be, I think he'll do really, really well."

Jordan played for the Scarlet Knights from 1973-77, and was the point guard on the team that went to the Final Four in 1976. He interviewed for the position in 2010, as well, when Rice eventually landed the job.

Once again, this time around, Jordan was not the top choice. The Rutgers search committee hit the ground running last week, and connected with Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley first.

But Hurley, a New Jersey native who was a former assistant at Rutgers, agreed to a contract extension with the Rams through the 2019-20 season.

The committee then focused in on Jordan, and didn't look at any other avenues. In fact, Jordan, after coaching with the Lakers last Friday night, flew to New Jersey on Saturday, and met with Interim Athletic Director Carl Kirschner Sunday.

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