SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Former Georgetown coach and Basketball Hall of Famer John Thompson has died at the age of 78.
Thompson was the first Black coach to win the NCAA championship. Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and molded it into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by Patrick Ewing in 1984.
But Thompson was more than a basketball coach.
“He just did a great job of tough love, of demanding a certain standard of excellence” – Coach McGeoghan
Phil McGeoghan was a high school football star at Agawam in the 1990’s and is now the Wide Receiver’s coach for the Los Angeles Chargers.
He explains the legacy John Thompson leaves behind, “Being a person of color you just saw a man with great stature and great poise and a a great emphasis on education and you saw him demand details and when you saw him take young at risk black men and transform their lives to educated productive and affluent members of their community not just because they had a good jump shot or could work in the post like some of the great big men that he coached. So he just did a great job of tough love, of demanding a certain standard of excellence and I thought he had the perfect balance of discipline and love.”
Coach McGeoghan is also working on a new initiative called ALLY, with a message about inclusion and bringing together good police officers with good kids and setting an example, to make a difference right here in western Massachusetts.
22News will spotlight that program in the days and weeks ahead.
Thompson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.
John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame sent 22News a statement on Thompson’s death, saying:
“Coach Thompson took the helm at Georgetown in 1972, vowing to turn around the program and bring a national championship to the nation’s capital. He made good on that promise in 1984 and had an immeasurable impact on the players he coached in his 27 year legacy. To have had a hand in the development of four Hall of Fame players in Ewing, Iverson, Mutombo and Mourning is an astonishing feat. Coach Thompson will be tremendously missed by the basketball community.”