It’s Time for Rutgers President Robert Barchi to Resign
If the Eddie Jordan graduation scandal proves anything, it is this.
It’s time for Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi to resign.
Really, how much more embarrassment can one University take?
Especially one that is poised to enter the Big Ten in 2014?
Already the jokes are starting to bubble up in the wake of the Deadspin report that Jordan never actually graduated from Rutgers.
“I heard Mike Rice gets a $10,000 bonus if Eddie Jordan graduates,” went one joke circulating Friday night.
By way of review, Barchi gave a humdinger of a press conference last month in which in addition to admitting that he often got lost on the Rutgers campus and had to be rescued by university police, he confessed that he never watched the damning videotapes of Rice hurling basketballs and gay slurs at his players until the week in which Rice was fired and former AD Tim Pernetti was forced to resign.
He signed off on a three-game suspension and $50,000 fine for Rice in December without ever having watched tapes that shocked and horrified most of the nation once ESPN broadcast them.
Then, according to Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi, Barchi met last with the newspaper’s editorial board and “admitted that he didn’t understand the all-consuming power of an athletic scandal.”
No kidding, Sherlock.
Now, here comes Deadspin with the news that Jordan, by all accounts a good man bent on cleaning up the mess that Rice left, never actually graduated from Rutgers despite a school press release at the time of his hiring saying he owned “a degree in health and physical education.”
Jordan admitted as much to ESPN.com on Friday.
“I went back to Rutgers in 1984-85 as a voluntary assistant to complete my studies,” said Jordan. “I didn’t walk. I didn’t get a diploma because I wasn’t registered right. That’s it. I was 28 and didn’t take care of my business. It was never an issue.”
That left Rutgers spokesman Jason Baum, who currently has no permanent boss until Pernetti’s replacement is hired, to issue this awkward statement:
“While Rutgers was in error when it reported that Eddie Jordan had earned a degreefrom Rutgers University, neither Rutgers nor the NCAA requires a head coach to hold a baccalaureate degree. Eddie Jordan was a four-year letterman and was inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980. Rutgers sought Eddie for the head coach position as a target-of-opportunity hire based on his remarkable public career.
“We are excited to have him as our men’s basketball coach, and we look forward to many winning seasons.”
Think about that for a minute.
Rutgers, which prides itself on being an elite academic research institution, issued a statement saying that a degree isn’t a requirement for their head coaches.
Even though advertisements for assistant coaches indicate a college degree is required?
“It just looks like an embarrassing error, I guess,” one NCAA source told SNY.tv.
Look, if Jordan does what he needs to do and goes back into the classroom to get his degree, this episode will eventually be forgotten.
Do you think the Rutgers’ players or recruits really care?
No, they care about whether Jordan, a former NBA player and coach who touts Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin of the Knicks as his pupils, can make them better players and possibly get them to the next level.
But if you’re a Rutgers alum, the parent of a Rutgers’ student or the parent of a prospective Rutgers’ student, take a step back and look at how these past few months make your University look.
And take a hard look at who’s been steering this ship into one public relations iceberg after another.
President Barchi, it’s time for you to go.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.