NJIT Basketball Coach Uses Wall Street Skills on the Court

As a part of our "Newark at a Crossroads" series, taped at NJIT, Brian Kennedy, NJIT's new Men's Basketball Coach, talks about the importance of recruiting, the upcoming season and how he transferred his skills from Wall Street boardrooms to the basketball courts.

9/30/16 #1899







"We are pleased to welcome, to the campus that he knows well, Brian Kennedy, head men's basketball coach right here at NJIT. Good to see you, coach. Great to see you too, Steve. Thank you for having me. You have a fascinating background. You were born and raised where? Born in Trenton, New Jersey. Raised in Rumson, New Jersey. Coached where before you got here? I was coached, most recently at DePaul University, in Chicago, Illinois. But wait a minute! You spent time on Wall Street? Yes, I did. How did that happen? [laughter] Everything is six degrees of separation, so I had recruited a player by the name of Rashon Burno out of St Anthony's High School here in New Jersey. Right. His legal guardian at the time, Steve Gladstone, had given me an opportunity to go work with his firm, which included Mark Bavaro and Phil McConkey, two great Giant players. That's right. And we had a small little institutional equity trading firm. That's how it happens? That's how it happens. So we talk to the president here, Doctor Bloom, a lot about student athletes, about the connection between academics and sports. A delicate balance. How do you see it? Most certainly, I think here at NJIT, it's academics first, and then athletics. And you know sometimes in the big college model of big time sports, sometimes that gets lost, but it's not lost here at NJIT. Academics come first and foremost. How do you make sure that happens? By recruiting. By getting out there and making sure that you recruit a student athlete who's got his priorities straight, who wants to come and get a degree at NJIT, before any of the basketball. So it's interesting coach. You know who doesn't belong here? Yes. I hate to put it that way, but there are other programs, excuse me, in this area, and we know who the pr... what programs they are, because they've been highly publicized, where a kid who comes to that school, goes to that school, it doesn't appear as if academics were that young person's top priority. You can pick it up. Yes. For sure. And I don't know if you've seen, Steve, but there's been over 700 Division One transfers out there this year. Talk about that. I think kids now, like you said, they're going to school for the wrong reasons. Maybe they're going for basketball, it doesn't work out, and this that, and the other thing. When the kids come here to NJIT, a kid like Damon Lynn and Tim Coleman have had such great success on the court..."