Exclusive: Interim AD Cites Jordan's Dignity

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers interim athletic director Carl Kirschner spoke exclusively with ScarletReport.com about the reasons Eddie Jordan was hired as Rutgers' new men's basketball coach. He pointed to Jordan's character, calling him a "classy person with dignity."

Eddie Jordan's 26-minute press conference was an advertisement to the country Rutgers moved to the other end of the spectrum in basketball leadership, and after it interim athletic director Carl Kirshner, the man who made the hire, pounded home the point.

The successor to disgraced coach Mike Rice is also the antithesis of the former basketball coach.

Kirschner met Jordan for the first time April 13, and several things stood out immediately.

"His candor, his openness, his honesty," Kirschner told ScarletReport.com. "He had no ego, no arrogance. He's mature, obviously in age, but he's a mature human being. You connect with Eddie immediately. People talk about patience being a strength. He's unusually patient and he preaches positive re-enforcement and structure."

Jordan did not duck away from the embarrassing 29-minute video tape, the one filled with vulgar language, homophobic slurs and throwing basketballs at players, that led to Rice's firing and the resignation of athletic director Tim Pernetti.

He said the program needed to begin healing. He talked about rarely swearing, about making sure he pronounced players' names accurately, about talking in a hushed tone because it made the players creep in closer and, thus, become a tighter, closer team. It's a trick he learned from legendary Princeton coach Pete Carrill.

"You're talking about a classy person with dignity, who will represent himself, the players, the program, the university well," Kirschner said. "Even impeccably."

Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley was the first person offered the job after Kirschner was appointed interim athletic director, and Jordan was the only other one given serious consideration.

From the beginning, though, Kirschner said Jordan stood apart from the other candidates because of his pedigree, which includes being a key part of Rutgers' 1976 Final Four team, an assistant coach on the last Rutgers team to reach the NCAA Tournament, an NBA championship winner as a player and nine seasons experience as an NBA head coach.

"In a certain way, there all the other candidates that were vetted in a group," Kirschner said. "And Eddie was in a separate group because of his unique situation as being an NBA coach, a college coach, an alum, and somebody who we had hoped would want to come back to Rutgers."

Jordan's job is to change the culture of the basketball program, which has become a national punch line in the wake of Rice's behavior.

So, how important was that in the decision to hire Jordan?

"Let me say it this way; You wouldn't ask the question if you didn't think it was important," Kirschner said. "Eddie is going to put in his own coaching style of dealing with the young men and build the program after that. And you hope, as word spreads that this is a wonderful guy to play for and a great mentor and a great coach, that will help a lot in recruiting."

Recruiting current players is as important as recruiting future players at this point.

Guards Elijah Carter and Jerome Seagears and wing Mike Poole each received their transfer releases but are important targets for Jordan and assistant coaches David Cox and Van Macon to retain.

Kirschner was involved in meeting with many of the players after Rice was fired, but he is now ready to pass the responsibility to Jordan.

"I can be helpful wherever I can, but this is really a matter of the coach directly speaking with and connecting with the players who are thinking about leaving," Kirschner said. "It is really, as he said, about building trust and I don't need to be part of that trust equation because they are not going to be playing for me."

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