New Athletics Center to Be Named for Legendary Basketball Coach
March 4, 2014 – Georgetown’s new athletic facility, slated for completion in 2016, will be named the John R. Thompson Jr. Intercollegiate Athletics Center, the university announced today.
Legendary Head Basketball Coach Emeritus John Thompson Jr. served as head coach of Georgetown’s men’s basketball team from 1972-1999 and is best known for leading the Hoyas to their first national NCAA basketball championship in 1984.
The $60 million four-story, 144,000-square-foot Intercollegiate Athletics Center (IAC) will be a state-of-the-art facility used by all 29 sports at Georgetown. The university is expected to break ground for the center this summer.
“We’re very excited to be able to have the opportunity to recognize the career of John Thompson Jr. this way,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Lee Reed says. “Coach Thompson’s legacy as a leader, a teacher and a coach are unparalleled in college athletics. Having his name on this building is a fitting honor.”
Leader and Champion
“John Thompson Jr. embodies the most profound values, the deepest values that animate the Georgetown community,” says Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “Through his example, he has demonstrated what it means to live out our mission most authentically to provide a context for our students to do their best work and become their best selves.”
The first African-American coach to win a major collegiate title, he coached Georgetown to three appearances in the Final Four and numerous Elite Eight tournament appearances during his tenure.
During his coaching tenure at Georgetown Thompson also established himself as a national leader, a champion for students with limited financial resources, and a strong proponent of values beyond the basketball court.
Life After Basketball
Through [John Thompson Jr.'s] example, he has demonstrated what it means to live out our mission most authentically - to provide a context for our students to do their best work and become their best selves.
—John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University
“His classroom was McDonough Arena,” DeGioia explains. “The fact that his first hire as head coach was an academic coordinator is an indicator of the values by which he chose to teach and lead.”
During the late 1980s, the NCAA proposed tightening GPA and SAT requirements for scholarship eligibility for first-year college students. Thompson protested the NCAA’s Proposition 42, saying it limited educational opportunities for students from underrepresented socioeconomic communities.
The NCAA eventually dropped Proposition 42.
“There are many moments when John Thompson Jr. reminded us of what it was to be Georgetown, and those moments included when he took a stand on important issues of the day,” DeGioia says.
Measure of a Man
Thompson also was known for keeping a deflated basketball in his office to remind students that they needed to do well academically and prepare for a life after basketball.
“Winning is important,” Thompson has said. “Playing the game is very important. But a man is measured not by what his arms can do but by his brains. You have to be able to do other things.”
Competitive at Highest Level
The new IAC will be constructed adjacent to McDonough Arena and include practice courts, locker rooms, team meeting rooms, lounge areas and offices for the men's and women's basketball coaching staffs in addition to locker rooms for four additional varsity sports.
Weight-training and sports medicine rooms for the university’s nearly 750 student-athletes will also be housed in the new IAC along with a student-athlete academic center, auditorium and team meeting facilities. The new facility will also serve as a venue for the Georgetown Athletics Hall of Fame.
“With one in eight undergraduates participating in Division I competition, athletics is a complementary component to the Georgetown academic and Jesuit experience,” says Reed. “The new center will provide a place for student-athletes at Georgetown to become even more competitive at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics.”