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BIG EAST Announces John Thompson Award (UPDATED)

Award for a player or team working against discrimination and for social justice.

Georgetown University Hoyas Men’s Basketball

The BIG EAST Conference announced a brand new John Thompson Jr Award, which will be given to an athlete or team that demonstrates significant efforts to fight prejudice and promote social justice.

The legendary late coach of the Georgetown Hoyas is widely praised as a founding member of the BIG EAST and a booming voice for change and equality throughout his life.

HOYA SAXA!

From GUHoyas Press Release:

JOHN THOMPSON JR. AWARD

  • The John Thompson Jr. Award will recognize significant efforts to fight prejudice and discrimination and advance positive societal change.
  • The award will annually honor a BIG EAST athletics department, team or individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, perseverance and/or creativity in promoting an environment of inclusiveness or championing the end of discrimination, racism and bigotry.
  • The annual John Thompson Jr. Award winner will be determined by a selection committee made up of representatives from the BIG EAST’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Working Group, a member of the Thompson family, and others designated by BIG EAST Presidents.
  • The 2021 recipient will be determined following the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year.
  • GU’s Hall of Fame coach who passed away on August 30, was a national leader and fierce advocate for racial equity and social justice - one of the first Black head coaches at a major Division I program when he was hired in 1972, he was known for protecting his players from the racism and bigotry they faced from opposing fans and the world at large. He famously walked out in protest over NCAA Proposition 42 in 1989 as he found the rule to be unfairly attacking opportunities for Black youth to receive an education.

BIG EAST Press Release

BIG EAST Announces Establishment of John Thompson Jr. Award

NEW YORK – The BIG EAST Conference announced today the establishment of the John Thompson Jr. Award, which will recognize significant efforts to fight prejudice and discrimination and advance positive societal change.

The John Thompson Jr. Award will annually honor a BIG EAST athletics department, team or individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, perseverance and/or creativity in promoting an environment of inclusiveness or championing the end of discrimination, racism and bigotry. Thompson, who died on August 30, was a national leader and fierce advocate for racial equity and social justice.

“Coach Thompson’s convictions and determination to reverse societal injustices helped define his life, and we hope this award will inspire the next generation of advocates to press ahead and pave the way for a more equitable world,” said BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman. “We are deeply grateful to the Thompson family for allowing us to honor John’s legacy and for supporting our efforts to carry forward the principles he fought for and to help bring about change.”

“John Thompson left an extraordinary legacy. This new award will serve as an important reminder and call to action—to further fulfill his vision for equality and opportunity and celebrate those who live out this commitment. We are grateful to the Thompson family and the BIG EAST for their efforts to establish this award in Coach Thompson’s memory,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia.

“Our father’s career as an educator was dedicated to creating an equal playing field for student athletes on and off the court. He understood the importance of his position and used his influence to bring attention to the concerns that limited the opportunities of those held voiceless. The Thompson family is honored that the Big East has chosen to acknowledge him with this special distinction designed to recognize those who continue the fight for social change and justice. We are hopeful that this award will encourage future generations to use their power to continue to work toward eradicating discrimination in this country while promoting equality in education and athletics,” The Thompson Family.

John Thompson Jr., the head men’s basketball coach at Georgetown University from 1972 to 1999, led the Hoyas to 24 consecutive postseason appearances in 27 seasons, including three Final Four berths, the national championship in 1984 and six BIG EAST Tournament titles. He was a 1964 graduate of Providence College, where he earned All-America honors, and played for two seasons for the Boston Celtics. The Celtics won the NBA championship in both years. After his pro career, Thompson returned to his native Washington, D.C., where he was a local high school coach before becoming the head coach at Georgetown. He was a father figure and mentor to countless student-athletes and coaches.

Thompson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

The annual John Thompson Jr. Award winner will be determined by a selection committee made up of representatives from the BIG EAST’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Working Group, a member of the Thompson family, and others designated by BIG EAST Presidents. The 2021 recipient will be determined following the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year.