John Thompson, the longtime coach at Georgetown University, passed away on Monday. He was 78 years old.
Syracuse, N.Y. ― John Thompson, the legendary former basketball coach at Georgetown University, has died at the age of 78, according to several reports.
Thompson coached at Georgetown from 1972 to 1999. He put together a record of 596-239; a .714 winning percentage, during his time at Georgetown.
BREAKING: Former Georgetown coach John Thompson has died, according to friends and family. There is no word on a cause yet. Thompson was 78 years old. MORE: https://t.co/407XtDFmkQ pic.twitter.com/wq19BL7BZ6
He played a huge role in the rise of the Big East Conference. He turned Georgetown into a national power when he recruited a young center named Patrick Ewing in 1981.
In Ewing’s four years at Georgetown, the Hoyas went to the NCAA Final Four three times. Georgetown won the NCAA title in 1984, making Thompson the first African-American coach to win a major college sports championship.
Thompson championed players’ rights, staging a walk-out in a 1989 game to protest Proposition 48, which would prohibit players from playing as freshmen if they failed to earn a qualifying SAT score. Thompson viewed Prop 48 and, especially standardized tests, as racially biased.
Thompson was named the national coach of the year twice and the Big East coach of the year three times. In 1988, he led the United States basketball team in the Olympics only to lose to the Soviet Union. It was the last time that the United States sent a team of all college players to the Olympics.
Thompson grew up in Washington D.C. where he played at Archbishop Carroll High School. He went onto play at Providence College and was selected in the 1964 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics. He spent two years with the Celtics and was a back-up to Bill Russell on two NBA championship teams.
He returned to D.C. to take the head coaching job at St. Anthony High School. He coached there for six years; his teams went 122-28 before getting the job at Georgetown.
Thompson has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., as well as the NCAA’s College Hall of Fame.
Mike Waters is a reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard and syracuse.com. Got a comment or idea for a story? He can be reached via email at [email protected]
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