NEW YORK -- Rutgers fired men's basketball coach Eddie Jordan after three unsuccessful seasons on Thursday and is expected to target New Jersey native and Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley as its No. 1 choice to replace him, sources told SNY.tv.
Jerry Carino of Gannett New Jersey was the first to report Jordan's firing.
Manhattan coach Steve Masiello is also strongly interested in the job and would take less money if Rutgers cannot come to financial terms with Hurley, sources said.
Both are young, hungry, aggressive coaches with tremendous connections who would get after it on the recruiting front and try to turn around a program that hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1991.
"Dan Hurley would be an absolute home run for Rutgers," one Division 1 coach said.
Jordan, 61, coached his final game Wednesday night, an 89- 72 loss to Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis that dropped the Scarlet Knights to 7-25 on the season.
Jordan initially signed a five-year contract in 2013 and made $1.15 million this season, according to the Asbury Park Press. His buyout is $2.065 million as opposed to the full amount owed of $2.95 million over his fourth and fifth seasons, the paper reported.
Hurley, 43, will coach Rhode Island (17-14, 9-9 Atlantic 10) Thursday night in an A-10 tournament game against UMass at Barclays Center. He takes a career record of 62-63 into that game with no NCAA Tournament appearances in six seasons at Rhode Island and Wagner.
Hurley is a former Rutgers assistant coach and has deep ties to the Garden State. During his nine-year tenure at St. Benedict's Prep (2001-2010), he compiled a 223-21 record, developed four McDonald's All-Americans, and coached the Grey Bees to four top five finishes in the national rankings. His father, Bob Hurley, is the legendary Naismith Hall of Fame coach at St. Anthony's, which has won 12 New Jersey Tournament of Champions titles.
Dan Hurley was in the mix for the Rutgers job back in 2013 after the school fired Mike Rice, but the school could not come up with enough money to lure him away from Rhode Island after his first season there and ultimately hired Jordan. A year ago, he signed an extension at Rhode Island through the 2021-22 season.
Now, under new athletic director Pat Hobbs, the school would need to offer Hurley in the neighborhood of $2 million annually for six years, sources said. Hurley will make a guaranteed $1 million per season by 2017-18 at Rhode Island, a raise from his 2014-15 salary of $630,000.
"I think they'll definitely get close to that $2 million number," one source said. "Money's not going to be an issue."
"I don't know how you turn that down [if you're Hurley]," a second Division 1 coach told SNY.tv of a possible return home. "There aren't too many people who are perfect for that job."
Hobbs, who was hired to replace Julie Hermann in November, is expected to move quickly. In December, he hired a new football coach, Chris Ash, eight days after Kyle Flood was fired three years into a five-year deal. Ash and Hurley have the same agent, Jordan Bazant.
St. Bonaventure's Mark Schmidt, George Washington's Mike Lonergan, Stony Brook's Steve Pikiell, Iona's Tim Cluess and former N.C. State and Arizona State coach Herb Sendek are considered possibilities after Hurley and Masiello.
A star of the 1976 Rutgers Final Four team and a former NBA coach, Jordan was hired in 2013 to stabilize his alma mater after Rice was fired for being shown verbally and physically abusing his players on videotape. But Jordan struggled mightily in his time at Rutgers and never gained recruiting momentum in the fertile territory of New Jersey. He finished with a record of 29-68 in three seasons, 8-46 in the Big Ten.
Before the Scarlet Knights beat Minnesota at home on the final day of the season, they had dropped 32 straight Big Ten games.
Hobbs is a very smart, shrewd guy who oversaw the Seton Hall athletic department as Dean of the Law School. He hired Kevin Willard, who in his sixth season has guided the Pirates to their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2006.
Now Hobbs will need to meet with Hurley and persuade him that Hobbs has the vision to take Rutgers boldly into the future in the Big Ten by fundraising and vastly improving the school's facilities.
Hurley, meantime, must decide whether he wants to go home (his wife Andrea is also from New Jersey) and make more money in a bigger league, or stay at a smaller school where he could have a potential Top 25 team in 2016-17. If he were to stay at Rhode Island and do well, Hurley could potentially be in the mix for bigger BCS jobs in the future. If he chooses Rutgers, he would have to be convinced it could compete with the league's big boys down the road.
Rhode Island was expected to be a Top 25-type team this year but lost star guard E.C. Matthews to a knee injury the first game of the season and recently lost forward Hassan Martin for the remainder of the season. The 6-7 Martin is a Staten Island native who was named A-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
The Rams have a young team returning next season, and also have four players committed for next season in bigs Michael Tertsea and Mike Layssard, power forward Cyril Langevine and guard Jeff Dowtin. Langevine plays for New Jersey parochial power St. Patrick's.
Still, if Rhode Island were to release them, several of the team's current players and signed recruits could follow Hurley to Rutgers.
If Hobbs cannot come to terms with Hurley, Masiello would be a strong hire.
Masiello just agreed to a four-year extension at Manhattan, where his base salary is $400,000. Sources said he would take in the neighborhood of $1 million annually with an incentive-laden contract at Rutgers.
A White Plains, N.Y., native and former Rick Pitino assistant, Masiello is 92-70 in five years at Manhattan, with two NCAA Tournament appearances.
He knows his way around New York and New Jersey, too. As an assistant under Pitino at Louisville, he recruited Earl Clark, Derrick Caracter, Samardo Samuels, Edgar Sosa and Russ Smith to the school. (Samuels came out of St. Benedict's Prep, where he was coached by Hurley.)
In 2014, Masiello's stock exploded to the point where he was offered the job at South Florida, which would've paid him $6.2 million over five years.
But when it was discovered during a background check that Masiello had never graduated from Kentucky, the entire storyline flipped.
Not only did South Florida back out of hiring Masiello (they ultimately hired Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua), but Manhattan placed Masiello on leave in late March and his future seemed uncertain.
In April 2014, Manhattan reinstated Masiello and by May he had completed his degree work at Kentucky.
If Hurley takes the Rutgers job, Masiello would be a possibility to replace him at Rhode Island.
"If Dan Hurley gets the job, Rutgers will be fine," one source said. "If Steve Masiello gets the job, Rutgers will be fine."
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