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Ed Cooley was formally introduced at Georgetown on Wednesday, ushering in a new era for what was once one of the most powerful men’s college basketball brands in the nation.
It will be Cooley’s task to restore the Hoyas to their former place in the sport’s hierarchy. He was hired away from his native city and Providence College after 12 seasons, signing an undisclosed multiyear deal.
Georgetown president Jack DeGioia, athletic director Lee Reed and a handful of former players — NBA veteran Jeff Green among them — were on hand to welcome Cooley at the Thompson Intercollegiate Athletic Center. The building is named for the late John Thompson, the Hall of Fame coach and national champion in 1984 who helped lift the school to prominence.
“It was going to take a very, very special place for me to leave home,” Cooley said. “Home. And it is hard. Yet — purpose. Change. Time. Purpose.
“There’s a purpose for us to be here. And it’s the right time.”
Cooley first met formally with school officials Sunday and accepted their contract offer on Monday afternoon. What he said was a quick process ended less than 72 hours after the Friars were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, 61-53, by Kentucky. It was the last of Cooley’s seven March Madness appearances in the nine most recent editions of the event.
“Ed’s a builder,” DeGioia said. “He builds teams. He builds the community. He understands what it means.”
Cooley is the first hire outside the Thompson line of succession since the Washington, D.C., native himself agreed to leave the city’s high school ranks and lead the program in 1972. Former assistant coach Craig Esherick, John Thompson III — Thompson's son — and program legend Patrick Ewing served as head coaches from the 1998-99 season until earlier this month, when Ewing was fired after six years. Cooley was targeted from the outset thanks to his Big East Tournament title in 2014, conference regular season crown in 2021-22 and Naismith National Coach of the Year honor he earned last spring.
“We knew we needed a leader — someone who understood our identity and could reimagine Georgetown basketball to fit today’s unique basketball landscape,” Reed said. “Coach Cooley has a vision for our program on the court, in the classroom and in the community.”
Thompson, along with John Chaney of Temple, Nolan Richardson of Arkansas and Al Skinner of the University of Rhode Island and Boston College, served as coaching idols for Cooley. He was allowed in the gym to watch the Hoyas practice prior to a road game against Providence in the 1980s. Cooley was a Central High star at that point and began to see what could await him in the future.
“I’m not him,” Cooley said. “I don’t want to be him. But I respect the platform that he gave all of us young believers who had a bowl of hope — a bowl of hope and a dream. That’s all I wanted.”
Cooley faces a considerable challenge rebuilding Georgetown after nearly a decade of declining relevance. Upset losses in the NCAA Tournament to Ohio, VCU and Florida Gulf Coast in the early 2010s stymied the momentum generated by the program’s most recent Final Four appearance — its fifth — in 2007. Thompson III went just 29-36 in his last two seasons and Ewing won a total of 28 conference games through his six years on the bench.
“We’re going to win games,” Cooley said. “I promise you we’re going to win games. We’re not going to win a little — we're going to win a lot.”
Cooley will be expected to tap the rich recruiting pool in the city and its surrounding areas. Rivals.com lists 18 four-star prospects or better from the nation’s capital, Maryland or Virginia in its classes of 2023, 2024 and 2025 — the Hoyas hold commitments from none of them. Cooley will also use his previous ties with larger metro areas in the Northeast and ability to navigate the transfer portal as outlets to bring in talent.
“I need to learn what this area is about,” Cooley said. “You have to find student-athletes who fit the way you want to play — your style of play, who fit you as a coach.”
Ivan Thomas attended the press conference in person and will follow Cooley from the Friars to the Hoyas. It’s a return to the Virginia area for Thomas, who was hired onto Providence’s staff as an assistant director of player development and promoted to assistant coach in 2016. Cooley said he expects to finalize his staff in the coming days and weeks.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to have some familiar faces sitting next to me,” Cooley said. “They’re trying to go through their process.”
Thomas sat in the front row alongside Cooley’s family — his wife, Nurys, and their two adult children, Isaiah and Olivia. His daughter is a senior at Georgetown and likely to stay in the area after she completes her undergraduate degree in May. Cooley cited being closer to her as one of the factors that went into his decision.
“There was a lot of soul searching on that,” Cooley said. “I had to say goodbye to a home — to a region. That region built me.”
Providence’s search for a replacement was well underway before the event's scheduled noon start time. The Friars have reportedly targeted George Mason head coach Kim English as a potential successor and have been in contact with him this week. He’d be the second head coach Providence has hired away from the Patriots, joining a three-time NCAA Tournament participant and former Big East tournament winner with the Friars — Rick Barnes.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Ex-Providence coach Ed Cooley introduced as Georgetown basketball coach