On Friday afternoon, students plan to lead a protest on Georgetown’s campus asking for accountability from University leadership on the situation with the men’s basketball team. After three weeks without a response from Georgetown administrators to the student/alumni petition fans submitted to the university with over 1,400 signatures, fans are still demanding answers. The protesters are asking for the university to consider taking a new approach to basketball and considers the status quo unacceptable.
The protest will start on Friday at 12:30 p.m. on the north side of Red Square in the heart of Georgetown’s campus. It will proceed to Healy Hall and culminate with a stop at the office of Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia. While students have organized this protest, alumni and general sympathizers are welcome as well. You can RSVP to the Facebook event, which will have more updates in the lead-up to the protest, here.
While asking Georgetown to move on from coach John Thompson III is a major objective for the protest, we believe that the results of the last two seasons are only part of the problematic approach the university has taken. We worry about the potential adverse effects of Georgetown’s basketball struggles on the university at large as increasing numbers of donors cancel their donations and their season ticket subscriptions.
We also believe the university has handled fan frustration poorly for many years, and that this has led to much hostility and vitriol on all sides of the debate. We hope that in the future, regardless of who is coaching this team, the school will publicly and privately engage much more with its fan base and be more forthcoming in its public statements. This will go a long way to earning the trust and patience of all Hoya fans.
Georgetown, however, has chosen to remain publicly silent in the face of public and private overtures for change. Both The Hoya and The Georgetown Voice have written editorials asking for a change to be made. Even influential, notable alumni players like Reggie Williams and Michael Graham have publicly made pointed statements asking for change.
Georgetown has still ducked multiple requests for comment and has not made any public statement, apart from a hastily deleted tweet sharing an article about Grant Hill’s statements about the program. It has not responded to alleged documented incidents of fans being shouted at by university employees or threatened with assault by former players. It has said nothing about two early player departures and the de-committing of a top recruit. It has merely chosen to remain silent.
We acknowledge that protesting over something like this may seem over-the-top. However, precedent shows that the university tends to increase its likelihood of a response if a protest is planned. This helped trigger the university’s decision to fire former coach Craig Esherick and it has also worked on issues less directly related to basketball.
This protest is about more than just the job status of John Thompson III. It is a request for accountability from concerned fans of Georgetown, not just its basketball team but the university at large. Student fans, season ticket holders, and donors will only support the team if they can see benefits and results. It’s hard for us to understand why we should support the team when it remains unusually secretive about the inner workings of the program.
Once again, you can find more info about the protest here.
(The author is acting in his role as a student fan and organizer of Students Concerned About Georgetown Basketball, and not in his role as a news writer for Casual Hoya)