The Georgetown athletic department was tapped as the inaugural winner of the newly created John Thompson Jr. award on Thursday, on what would have been the late legendary Hoyas men's basketball coach's 80th birthday.
The Big East established the award after Thompson's death on Aug. 30, 2020, to recognize efforts from an athletic department, team or individual who has showcased significant efforts to promote inclusiveness and champion the end of racism and bigotry. Georgetown beat out finalists Providence, St. John's and Xavier.
“We congratulate and commend (athletic director) Lee Reed and the Georgetown athletics program for their thoughtful and comprehensive efforts to promote and advance the goal of a more equitable society,” BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman said in a release. “The initiatives undertaken by Hoya student-athletes, in particular, represent a powerful leadership example and make it clear that the principles of equity that Coach Thompson espoused remain deeply held on the Hilltop.”
In addition to the 1984 NCAA championship, six BIG EAST Tournament titles, three NCAA Final Four berths, and 24 consecutive postseason appearances in the 27 seasons in which Thompson led the Hoya program, it was his impact off the court that is so lasting for many around the Washington area.
From walking off the court in opposition to Proposition 42 to keeping a notorious drug lord away from his players, Thompson knew what it meant to take a stand. A great mentor to many of the era's greats like current Hoyas coach Patrick Ewing, Thompson's impact is still felt today.
"Throughout his life, Coach Thompson challenged the status quo and brought to light so many injustices happening to those without a voice,” AD Lee Reed said. "Georgetown University is honored to have an award bear his name, and we are proud to be the inaugural recipients. There is still more work to be done within this space, and we will strive to live his values within our community each and every day."
This award honors that legacy, and the initiatives to advance positive societal change within the Georgetown program make them fitting recipients. Actions such as the wearing of social justice messages by the men's and women's basketball teams, diversity hiring, and engaging in consistent conversations around topical issues have helped Georgetown live up to the standard Thompson set so admirably.