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My Letter to Georgetown: Why Change is Needed. Now.

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GMHoya moves past ‘Game Grades’ to sending letters home.

Press conference introducing former Hoyas star Patrick Ewing as the new coach of the team. Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

I started this year writing the “Game Grades” column for Casual Hoya, a mostly fun post following each game, which was a sometimes informative (maybe) and fun way to engage a fanbase and team that I care a lot about.

Then *waves arms* this all happened. After about ten or so “Grades” posts, it became abundantly clear that assigning arbitrary grades to the players, coaches, team after each game this year was a BIG mistake. I don’t think anyone wanted to read whether Kaiden Rice got a C- or D+ after another 15-point conference loss, and I frankly didn’t want to write it. There is no grading a dumpster fire, and it has become abundantly clear that we are, in fact, witnessing a dumpster fire, and we are in the dumpster.

So, as the worst season in program history (I think we can safely call it that) will soon come to a merciful close, we look to the future. After “The Statement” which presumably means Hoyas fans are faced with the prospect of the school merely running it back next season, report cards clearly aren’t working. It’s time to write a letter home.

Dear Mr. Reed and President DeGioia,

I am a life-long Hoya Fan, a D.C. resident and have been a Men’s Basketball season ticket holder for more than five years. I am writing to implore you to take action to help save the basketball program we all love. I want desperately to welcome back a team next Fall with renewed energy and enthusiasm. But if we as fans are really asked to simply “stay the course,” as you appear to be communicating, I will be canceling my season tickets and withdrawing my admittedly modest financial support of the Men’s Basketball program and University.

I am sure you have felt the embarrassment, disappointment and stress of this season as we all have, if not more so. It has been painful for all who care about this program and this school. But the on-court results, as crushing as they have been (and they have been catastrophic), pale in comparison to what lies underneath the worst season in the history of Georgetown basketball. I urge you to make meaningful and fundamental changes not to sever this program from its past: a proud, unique and essential tradition. But to save it. I am not talking about merely changing a coach. That, unfortunately, would be the easiest move to make and would serve only as a temporary reprieve while in the meantime devastating our most-beloved former player. And as you seem to have made up your minds on that front, for some totally incomprehensible reason, I ask that you at least honor Patrick Ewing, the person, player and coach, by acknowledging the deep flaws that led to this failure and correcting them.

It is clear that something is fundamentally broken with a team that cannot substantively improve, let alone win a Big East Conference game. And something is deeply fractured and has been between the program and its fans for a while. Unfortunately, you need not look past the first ten rows of Capitol One Arena to see that. Your daily interactions may provide you with confidence in a program that is communicative, empathetic, humble and discerning. But that is not the image your fans, students and supporters have. What we see is a program that would prefer it if their fans would simply shut up and cheer. A program that expresses, at almost every opportunity, indifference, if not begrudging disdain, for its fans. This is not the result of some unfair collective delusion. This perception exists because of what the program says to its fans, when it says anything at all and the decisions that this program makes. I said when I started writing “Grades” that I would not give F’s to those who were trying if not succeeding. And I stand by that for the players who have continued to play hard despite their results. This program, on the other hand, deserves no such deference.

A program that does the bare minimum, rather than everything in its rather expansive power, to bring students to its expensive, off-campus arena, has failed.

A program that has not provided their most beloved former player with necessary guidance and support in the way of staff, hiring-decisions and advice, has failed.

A program that makes it nearly impossible for students to attend the one home game that is not played 30-minutes from the campus where most live, study and socialize, has failed.

A program that instead of hiring and cultivating their former players, displays, at best, indifference and at worst, disregard, towards them, forcing them to show their love and dedication for their program by self-organizing their own podcasts, has failed.

A program that’s only comment to students and a fanbase during a winless conference season, and the single worst season in program history, has been “cheer better”, has failed.

A program with a purported “Chief of Staff” who is not only invisible and unaccountable during the single worst season in their history but is seen on television announcing other basketball games, has failed.

A program whose interactions with the media, the one consistent conduit of information and communication to fans, can be best characterized as cold to non-existent, has failed.

A program that has seen an unprecedented, even for the “ever-evolving landscape of modern college basketball,” 12 transfers in five years, some under extremely disappointing circumstances without expressing an iota of accountability, has failed.

A program whose head coach, most beloved player and one of the greatest players of all time, accepts no public responsibility for the worst season in program history and instead deflects blame to 20-year-old student-athletes, has failed.

A program that makes communication with fans through its website and social channels to announce player news, major hires, and celebrating new recruits a last resort if at all, has failed.

A program once built on an on-court image of defensive grit, toughness and skill finds itself ranked among the worst of all Division 1 basketball programs in defensive rating, has failed.

A program that shies away and removes itself from national tournaments and high-profile non-conference games, has failed.

A program that uses its one recent accomplishment of winning the Big East Tournament (a collective accomplishment, not a singular one) as a cudgel to help justify its desire to stay the course rather than as a stepping stone for future success, has failed.

Simply put, the Georgetown Hoyas Men’s Basketball program has failed. And it is time to change.

Change is hard. Change requires difficult conversations and decisions. Change may hurt some and must be enacted respectfully, thoughtfully and with deference to history. But change is not the enemy of tradition. It is the engine of longevity. I desperately hope you see the numerous calls for change I know you are receiving them as what they are - words from devoted and passionate fans who care deeply about both the past and future of this program. Most of us will be here when the dust settles. We will use the limited levers at our disposal to make our voices heard, but we will be here supporting the students and principles of Georgetown Basketball. We are simply asking that you honor this support and the long line of students, administrators, coaches, staff, players and fans that hold the Georgetown Basketball banner.

Hoya Saxa,

Gideon Hertz

Season Ticket Holder