NEWARK - Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley of St. Anthony High in Jersey City would consider taking over the Rutgers basketball program on a caretaker basis for a year or two.
The 65-year-old Hurley told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday that his wife, Chris, and his daughter, Melissa, have encouraged him to take the job if approached, and he indicated he would do it on a short-term basis to stabilize the program that was rocked after a video was aired last week showing now fired coach Mike Rice kicking and grabbing players while uttering anti-gay slurs.
The scandal also led to the resignation of athletic director Tim Pernetti.
Despite the need for a full-time athletic director, Rutgers interim Carl Kirschner has elected to look for a coach first. He began by approaching Hurley's son, Dan, the coach at Rhode Island, on Monday. Later in the week, Dan Hurley agreed to a contract extension at the Atlantic 10 school through the 2019-20 season.
Dan Hurley, 40, and Rhode Island began working on the parameters of the deal last week, and on Monday, after Rutgers spoke with him, the process escalated. It seemed like a logical fit for the Scarlet Knights, as Hurley grew up in Jersey City, played at Seton Hall and was an assistant coach at Rutgers.
After Dan Hurley's decision, Rutgers reportedly approached Eddie Jordan, an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers who played at Rutgers from 1973-77, seeking a weekend interview. The Lakers on Friday were at home, preparing for a date with the Golden State Warriors. Jordan was not available for comment.
Bob Hurley, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, is concerned for the basketball players, a group that includes two of his former standouts at St. Anthony, Myles Mack and Eli Carter. He said they have been put under the spotlight and in an uncomfortable spot while the scandal runs its course.
"Something has to happen right now so they can get back to being student-athletes," Bob Hurley said. "This is a mess."
Bob Hurley said the biggest danger to the program would be mass defections by the players. Sophomore forward Malik Kone already has announced plans to transfer, and sophomore guard Jerome Seagears and junior swingman Vincent Garrett also have told the school they are leaving although the university has not confirmed it.
Point guard Shane Rector, the marquee star of Rice's recruiting class for next season, has decommitted and there is concern that junior college transfers Craig Brown and Chris Griffin might be having second thoughts about coming to Rutgers, as well. The Scarlet Knights finished 15-16 last year, and were 12th in the Big East.
Bob Hurley said he also is concerned that, because of the nature of the scandal, the NCAA might consider allowing Rutgers players to transfer without sitting out a year. That could lead to a run on Scarlet Knights leaving town, and that might set the program back even further.
Bob Hurley has never coached on the college level, but he is only one of 10 high school coaches in the Hall of Fame. St. Anthony has won 27 New Jersey state titles, and 12 Tournament of Champions crowns. The Friars went 28-2 this season, losing the Non-Public B championship to Roselle Catholic, 48-44.
"I would be looking to help them get back on speed," said Hurley, who has spent close to four decades at St. Anthony. "But I would be abandoning my seniors and the school where I am now."
The positive for St. Anthony, though, is that Hurley said he would donate some of the money he would receive from Rutgers to the cash-strapped school.
Jordan interviewed with the Scarlet Knights in 2010, when Pernetti hired Rice. He has coached the Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings, where he started as an assistant. He also was an assistant with the then-New Jersey Nets, including two seasons when they went to the NBA Finals.
Dan Hurley coached high school ball, as well, at St. Benedict's Prep, in Newark, and is a graduate of St. Anthony, where he played for his father. But he has only been with the Rams for one season - he originally signed a six-year deal worth approximately $4 million last year - and has high hopes for the program next year.
As part of the extension, Rhode Island will commit itself to financially improving the program. Dan Hurley went 8-21 with the Rams last year, after posting a 38-23 record with Wagner in two seasons there.
Dan Hurley was an assistant with the Scarlet Knights from 1997-2001 and has been on the fast track ever since. St. Benedict's developed into a national power during his tenure (2001-2010) and Wagner saw enough in him, despite his lack of college experience, to lead a program that went 5-26 the season before he arrived. In his first season at the Staten Island school, he went 13-17, and the following year he finished 25-6.
Hurley's other son, Bobby, also entered college coaching three years ago as an assistant to Dan at Wagner. He then followed Dan to Rhode Island last season, and last month, he took the open head-coaching position at Buffalo.
The Rice crisis was another in a long line of embarrassing incidents regarding the Rutgers program. The Scarlet Knights had to fire coach Fred Hill, Jr., just before hiring Rice because the former acted inappropriately at a Rutgers baseball game that his father, Fred, Sr., was coaching. And Hill replaced Gary Waters, who missed a home game because he was snowbound in Ohio after being honored the night before by Kent State.
Before all of that, Kevin Bannon was fired after questionable practice decisions regarding his players. Bannon ordered two Scarlet Knights and two student managers to run sprints naked during a foul-shooting contest. Both of them later transferred from the school.
The Scarlet Knights haven't qualified for the NCAA tournament since 1991.