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Reaction to Student Editorials: Change, Leadership & Accountability

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How long has it been (since the Hoyas’ season ended)?
Hoya Saxual - 2013

Students have not forgotten about basketball. If the university was relying on spring break to shift focus away from questions about the future of the program, administrators were mistaken. There are questions that need to be answered, and delaying that process will only make the reconciliation process more difficult.

In today’s print issue of The Georgetown Voice, their Editorial Board put forth an articulate critique of the administration’s communication practices and the perceived lack of accountability within the basketball program. The entire piece, entitled Change Needed in Basketball Leadership, is available on their site. I strongly recommend that you take the time to read the full text, as it is well-reasoned and comprehensive.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

“We were encouraged last year by the apparent recognition on the part of the coaching staff that the Hoyas needed to make adjustments. It seemed there was reason for optimism going into this season. But now, with another year gone and an even worse record to show for it, we believe it is time for a new head coach to begin the process of restoring Georgetown’s place in the national basketball conversation, something the administration has made clear is one of its goals.”

“Against this backdrop, long-standing administrative policies have created the appearance of a lack of accountability within the basketball program. Statements regarding the program are sparse, and pre-game media availabilities are inconsistent.”

“Coach Thompson does not deserve this toxicity. Almost every coach goes through rough stretches, and while we believe a change to be necessary, much of the aggression now directed toward him is out of order. But while some have gone too far in their criticisms, administration policies have, in their attempt to silence and ignore dissent, created an environment in which criticism has only become more extreme. [...] Next year’s coach, whether Thompson or someone else, would be poorly served by the continuation of the same administrative policies which have fed the perception that the program lacks accountability.”

This morning’s edition of The Hoya also included an editorial focusing on the deteriorating relationship between the school and the fans. It explains how Georgetown’s lack of transparency distinguishes our program from others, and not in a positive way. The entire piece, Georgetown Basketball Must Confront Off-Court Issues, is available online.

A couple of passages, to start things off:

“While Villanova, Duke, Seton Hall, Xavier, Notre Dame, Providence and other private universities publicly disclose their coaches’ contracts, Georgetown is unique in that Thompson’s contract details are not available, leaving fans in the dark about how much the university is spending — reported figures from the International Business Times are in the ballpark of $2.8 million per year — on a program that has struggled to fill half the seats at the Verizon Center for the past two seasons.”

“In a time where Georgetown’s free speech protections have come increasingly under scrutiny, with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education ranking Georgetown among its 10 worst schools for free speech, the overt attempt to stifle fan dissatisfaction is particularly galling.

The university should ensure students are permitted to brandish non-explicit signs during games and publicly condemn those within and outside the athletic department who suppress student speech in the student section.”

Both of the major student publications have now addressed this issue. Meanwhile, the university has refrained from making any sort of public statement on the coaching situation since the Hoyas’ season officially ended on March 8th.

The students, alumni, and fans have spoken; it’s Georgetown’s turn.