More than 1,400 students and alumni have signed a petition to dismiss the head coach of Georgetown’s men’s basketball team John Thompson III as of Wednesday evening.
The petition, launched Feb. 25 by Roey Hadar (SFS ’17) and Brendan Doyle (COL ’17), will be delivered to university administrators Friday.
An event created on Facebook to advertise the petition has about 1,700 students invited and over 450 students marked “attending.”
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed said in a statement to The Hoya that Georgetown remains committed to Thompson.
“We remain confident in Coach Thompson’s ability to lead a team comprised of student athletes who achieve academically, are prepared for a future beyond Georgetown, and will be competitive on a national level,” Reed said in the statement.
The petition is addressed to Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia, Reed, board of directors Chair William J. Doyle and members of the board of directors.
The petition argues that Thompson has led the team to its worst four-year record of any period in Georgetown basketball since the 1970s, and that a change is necessary to secure the basketball program’s future.
“We acknowledge the immensely valuable contributions Coach Thompson and his father John Thompson, Jr., have made to this University, including to the personal development of players and to the integrity of the Athletic Department,” the petition reads. “We believe, however, that both a change in coach and a change in approach, facilitated by conducting the Athletic Department’s affairs with a greater willingness to engage the University’s fan base and the media, will help the program succeed in the long-term.”
Hader and Doyle aren’t the first to call Thompson’s abilities as a coach into question. A Feb. 24 commentary in The Hoya called for the university to remove Thompson, citing a loss of faith in the men’s basketball team, while an article in fan discussion website Casual Hoya last month also called for the coach’s removal.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman published a column yesterday detailing the tensions around Thompson’s tenure. ESPN shows “Around the Horn” and “Pardon the Interruption” referenced these articles while discussing Thompson’s future.
Hader said he and Doyle first shared their concerns in a comment thread on the Georgetown basketball blog and Casual Hoya. According to Hader, Georgetown’s 86-80 loss against St. John’s provided the final push to launch the petition.
“We started messaging on Facebook with each other also, trying to come up with ideas. Then we drafted up this petition on either Thursday or Friday, and made it public on Saturday just after the St. John’s game,” Hader said.
The two fans were motivated to start the petition, according to Hader, by what they saw as the increasingly dire state of the men’s basketball program.
“If we don’t make a change, donors will eventually stop donating, season ticket holders will eventually cancel their subscriptions, students will continue to become increasingly apathetic about the basketball program and eventually that will adversely impact other parts of the university,” Hader said.
Doyle said the response to the petition has been largely positive.
“We’ve heard a lot of support from current students, from recent alumni, from other alumni,” Doyle said. “A lot of people have been willing to tell us that they’re supporting us, and we’re hoping we can leverage that support into making a meaningful change.”