Rutgers University is in the headlines again, and not for the right reasons.
It recently came out that new head coach Eddie Jordan, who was hired following the Mike Rice debacle, did not have his degree as initially reported by the school when he was given the job.
Let's make one thing very clear -- Jordan did not deceive the school in any way. He was a standout player on a team which made the Final Four in 1976, and he attended the university and took a number of hours. It said in his file that he accumulated more than 100 credit hours, according to several reports, but he did not finish.
Now there is controversy over this situation.
The reality is a lack of a degree is not going to make one bit of difference in Jordan's talents as a coach or leader on the sidelines. He has a wealth of basketball knowledge and an unbelievable résumé accumulated by coaching at the highest level, the NBA, as well as experience on the collegiate level.
Jordan has proven himself as a player at Rutgers as well as a player at the next level. That becomes very attractive to potential student-athletes.
However, my gut feeling is he would be wise to stand tall, and when it is all said and done, make an incredible effort to get his diploma.
You and I both know that in the world of recruiting, the tactics used in negative talk can be vicious. Other recruiters, when sitting across from an athlete, might use this against the new Rutgers coach.
Can't you see a scenario where someone going for a young player against Rutgers says to the mom and dad, "In the game of life, preparing for the future, do you want to sign with a coach who doesn't have his own degree?"
That becomes a nightmare at Rutgers, where most kids will stay for the full four years and attempt to get that degree. The Scarlet Knights do not have many one-and-done student-athletes there. They have not had that elite type of player who will jump to the pros after one season.
Jordan would stand tall if he worked on getting his degree, whether it was online or in some other capacity. Do the work a little bit here and a little bit there, but get the credits.
That would quiet the critics and allow him to do the job he was hired for: coach the Scarlet Knights and bring them back to prominence. They will be in the Big Ten down the line, and a fresh start would be helpful after the adverse publicity over the departure of Rice and athletic director Tim Pernetti.
I said it when he was hired and I will say it again: This was a grand slam because he loves the university, has a passion and pride about Rutgers, loves and knows the sport and has many contacts in basketball.
Now it is all in his hands. He should put together a plan to finish his work toward the degree and silence any critics out there.