WASHINGTON — Almost exactly two months before tip-off of the 2017 NCAA men’s basketball season, reports are flying that George Washington Colonials coach Mike Lonergan has been fired:
The team has yet to confirm reports, but Dan Wolken of USA TODAY said coaches were informed of this decision on Friday and spoke under the condition of anonymity.
This move follows nearly two months of investigation into accusations that he had verbally and emotionally abused at least one player. Over his five-year tenure with the team, 13 players have transferred out of the program.
At the time that the accusations came out, one player was anonymously quoted as saying: “A lot of kids transfer because they have delusions of grandeur. Nobody transferred from GW with delusions of grandeur. They just transferred because they hated (Lonergan). They couldn’t stand another second of him.”
“They just transferred because they hated [Lonergan]. They couldn’t stand another second of him.”
One player suggested Lonergan told him to transfer to a “transgender league.”
“I don’t think the guy should be in sports,” one former player told the Washington Post. “I don’t think what he said should be tolerated. I would like to stay at GW. I will not play for Mike Lonergan.”
In a statement made to the Washington Post before this latest report emerged, Lonergan denied any wrongdoing: “I will not respond to anonymous, unfounded allegations. These types of accusations have already been investigated by the University and found to be groundless.
“Those who know me know that I conduct myself and run my program with integrity. I have a long record of graduating student-athletes who go on to be successful in life. I am proud of my student-athletes’ success on the court and in the classroom, and I am focused on preparing for the upcoming season.
“I am proud of my student-athletes’ success on the court and in the classroom, and I am focused on preparing for the upcoming season.”
The school brought in outside counsel to investigation the allegations and said that they would not accept retaliation against whistleblowers. Lonergan reportedly called and emailed his players after the allegations came to light in July, in an attempt to learn the identities of those complaining.
If the reports are true, then Lonergan finishes with a 97-70 (.581) records at George Washington, including a 44-39 (.530) record in the Atlantic 10 Conference. His squads won at least 22 games in each of the last three seasons and he led the Colonials to a NIT Championship in 2015-16.