For all but five of the past 45 years, a man named John Thompson has coached the Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team. When Georgetown takes the court for the start of the 2017-18 season, that will no longer be the case.
The Hoyas officially fired John Thompson III on Thursday after 13 seasons in the nation’s capital, the final two marked by losing seasons and a failure to reach the NCAA tournament. Georgetown suffered its second straight losing season this year, the first time the Hoyas had posted consecutive losing seasons since 1973, which was John Thompson Jr.’s first year in Washington.
ESPN reported that Georgetown president John J. DeGioia informed John Thompson III on Thursday that he would no longer coach the Hoyas, officially ending the school’s long association with the Thompson family, a pair of men who took the Jesuit school and built it into a national brand.
When he was hired in 2004, the younger Thompson was tasked with restoring the program to the level it had reached under his father, who guided the Hoyas to at least a share of seven Big East titles and three Final Four appearances, including the 1984 national championship. When John Thompson III took over from Craig Esherick, however, Georgetown had slipped drastically, making just one trip to the NCAA tournament in the five years before Thompson’s arrival.
Within three years, the younger Thompson had resurrected Georgetown as a force on a national level. In his second year in Washington, Thompson got the Hoyas to the Sweet 16, and one year later, Georgetown won 30 games and reached the Final Four for the first time since 1985.
But that proved to be the end of the good times for John Thompson III. Following that Final Four appearance, Georgetown never again played past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament under his leadership. Instead, the Hoyas morphed into a good regular season team that fell apart when the postseason began. Georgetown made six more NCAA appearances under Thompson and was never seeded lower than sixth, but each time, the Hoyas were dismissed in the first or second round.
Georgetown made six more NCAA appearances under Thompson and was never seeded lower than sixth, but each time, the Hoyas were dismissed in the first or second round. Making matters worse was Georgetown’s penchant for losing to double-digit seeds. Of the Hoyas’ six early exits, five of them came to schools seeded 10th or worse, including first-round losses by double digits to 14th-seeded Ohio in 2010 and 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast in 2013.
The final straw for the Thompson era at Georgetown was the squad’s inability to compete in the new Big East, as the Hoyas posted three losing conference records in four years since the breakup of the old Big East. He leaves with a record of 278-151 at the Washington university.
Whoever replaces John Thompson III will likely take over a program searching for answers, as Georgetown lost L.J. Peak to the NBA draft and saw incoming freshman Tremont Waters instead ask for a release from his letter of intent. DeGioia told the Washington Post that a search for the Hoyas’ new coach will begin immediately.
Readers, was Thompson’s time up at Georgetown? Who do you think Georgetown should hire to help the Hoyas compete in the Big East? Can the school regain its glory? Sound off in the comments and like and share this story!
Commentary by Dan Angell