Ed Cooley, the former head coach of the Providence Friars, promised that a national championship win is on the horizon for the Georgetown University Hoyas.
After a record-breaking Big East losing streak over the past two seasons resulted in the departure of Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85), the university appointed Cooley as the new head coach of the Georgetown men’s basketball program March 20. Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) and Georgetown Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed held an official press conference March 22 introducing Cooley as the new face of the program.
Cooley said his journey into such a prestigious leadership position as a Black man from a low-income background proves that anything is possible.
“I coach from experience, humility and appreciation,” Cooley told The Hoya. “I do not take anything for granted. The fact that I am the head coach of Georgetown right now says that dreams can come true, regardless of your background, regardless of what you look like.”
Cooley transformed Providence from a conference bottom feeder to a perennial powerhouse, posting a 242-153 record over his 12 seasons leading the Friars and earning seven NCAA Tournament berths. The team’s continuous improvements culminated in a Sweet 16 appearance that earned Cooley the 2022 Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year Award, an honor given annually to the best Division I basketball coach.
Reed said Cooley quickly emerged as the leading candidate to usher in a new era of Hoya men’s basketball following the heavily criticized tenure of Ewing.
“We needed a leader, someone who understood our identity and could re-imagine Georgetown basketball to fit today’s unique basketball landscape,” Reed said at the press conference. “Coach Cooley has a vision for our program on the court, in the classroom and in the community.”
DeGioia said Cooley facilitates a healthy environment for players, both on and off the court.
“Ed’s a builder,” DeGioia said at the press conference. “He builds teams. He builds community. He understands what it means for a team to be successful on the court and, most importantly, the role that athletics can play in the formation of the young men on his team.”
Although speculation surrounding Georgetown’s new coach started months before Ewing’s departure, the official hiring process lasted a mere 48 hours, beginning when Providence exited the NCAA Tournament. Georgetown, with support from management and consulting firm CRG, negotiated with Cooley and Dennis Coleman, who serves as a senior counsel at Ropes & Gray law firm, before quickly finalizing the decision.
For Cooley, a cohesive community requires a healthy reciprocal relationship between athletes and the Georgetown community at large. He stressed the importance of maintaining accountability and inclusivity to build widespread support for the program.
“The commitment to excellence is not just on the court, it’s in the classroom, and for all of you, get ready,” Cooley said at the press conference. “I am super inclusive. I want to meet you. I want to know your names. I want you to see and evolve with us from day one, because we cannot do it alone.”
When Cooley first joined Providence in 2011, LaDontae Henton was his first recruit. Twelve years and a stint in professional basketball later, Henton now serves as the Friars’ associate director of player development, scouting and recruiting coordination — having coached under Cooley’s guidance for the last two seasons.
“He built real life relationships off the court to where you can trust him,” Henton told The Hoya. “And he gains players’ trust. Guys would run through a wall for him — knowing that he’s genuine, he’s kind, he’s going to be real with you and he’s going to hold you accountable.”
Henton witnessed firsthand Cooley’s efforts to rebuild the Providence men’s basketball team as a four-year starter under Cooley. Drawing from his experiences both as a player and athletics staffer for the Friars, Henton said Cooley’s actions as a coach back up his bold aspirations.
“I’ve seen him when he had dreams of what he could make happen at Providence College, and I believed in him from the start,” Henton said. “Everything that he talked about when he took over the job, and he recruited people, he did.”
“The growth of Ed Cooley never stops,” Henton added. “He wants to be better. He wants to be great at his job, and he strives to do that every day, and that hasn’t changed since I met him.”
Cooley said he is determined to bring that winning spirit with him to Georgetown, starting with carrying over some familiar faces from his former staff at Providence to the Hilltop.
Cooley exclusively confirmed to The Hoya that Providence Assistant Coach Ivan Thomas would “definitely” be joining Georgetown’s staff.
Cooley said his coaching team will embody passion, energy and a strong work ethic.
“Nobody will outwork this group, nobody,” Cooley said at the press conference. “There will not be one staff in the country that will outwork the staff that is about to arrive at the Hill. I can tell you that.”
Cooley said his players must also subscribe to a philosophy of grit and personal excellence.
“We need to make sure we have not the best players, but the best people, that are good players, that have incredible integrity, that have character, that have passion, that have a chip on their shoulder to want to be a champion,” Cooley said.
Cooley said he aims to inject energy into a tired Georgetown program after its two seasons of repeated losses.
“I promise you, we’re gonna win games,” Cooley said at the press conference. “We’re not gonna win a little. We’re gonna win a lot.”
Despite ambitious goals, Cooley said it is also important to remember such large-scale changes only happen with widespread buy-in from all interested parties of the basketball program.
“We need everybody in here to give us a chance,” Cooley said at the press conference. “The word ‘patience’ is always hard, because everyone wants it and they want it right now. Have a little bit of patience, right? Rome wasn’t built in a day, as we all say, but it was built.”
Cooley admitted waiting for change might feel painful, but he said it is integral that Georgetown basketball does not dwell on past failures.
“I never look in the past. I’m a present and move forward person. What happened yesterday, happened yesterday, we cannot control it,” Cooley told The Hoya. “But we can control what is happening today and what’s going to happen in the future.”
Henton said Cooley is the perfect person for any team looking to rebound.
“I really think that Coach Cooley is a winner in life, and that translates to basketball,” Henton said. “Everything that he’s been through, he’s been a winner. He’s going to win wherever he’s at, wherever he’s put.”
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