Tia Jackson, who was forced to resign at Washington after last season, has found a home on the staff of C. Vivian Stringer at Rutgers. Jackson played for Stringer at Rutgers.

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SPOKANE — Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer hired Tia Jackson as her No. 1 assistant at Rutgers without asking her what went wrong in her first head-coaching job.

Jackson resigned at Washington last spring after compiling a four-year record of 45-75. Those numbers aren’t in her biography.

“I know for a fact they don’t come any better than her,” Stringer said. “We haven’t really talked about it yet because I know it’s such a hurtful thing. She’s such a professional, such a sweetheart, she’s not going to say anything about it.”

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Rutgers (22-9) is in Spokane to play Gonzaga (26-5) on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. It’s Jackson’s first public return to the state, but Stringer said it was not the time for her assistant to talk about the past.

“I think we’re just fortunate to be able to have a person that’s so accomplished,” Stringer said. “She’s been at UCLA, Stanford, UCLA and Duke and then as a head coach at the University of Washington.

“How many coaches are fortunate enough to have that kind of experience? That’s why I brought her in as my associate, the person that speaks for me.”

Of course, Stringer might be a little biased. Jackson, a Maryland native, played for Stringer at the University of Iowa, competing in four NCAA tournaments, reaching the 1994 Final Four, Jackson’s junior season.

“She deserves the best,” Stringer said. “We’ve been close personal friends. She’s one of our own. I coached her at Iowa. She has tremendous talent, a great coach, very, very loyal and committed.”

It was a lack of communication skills that was one of the biggest criticisms of Jackson’s time in Seattle, but Stringer said the fault might lie elsewhere and she takes some of the blame.

“I’d say five first-time coaches were just fired,” she said. “It hurts me because I keep thinking about the responsibility I have to somehow help. I’ve got to tell them something.”

That time for a talk with Jackson is soon.

“We’ll talk about it at the end of the season because she’s not destined to be an assistant coach,” the Rutgers coach said. “I want her to see what we’re doing here, the types of conversations we have with the players, what we’re thinking.

“She’s an ideal person. It’s not long before someone is going to grab her. She’s a great people person; just has a great understanding of the (game),” Stringer added.

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