Ahead of Georgetown's penultimate regular-season contest for the men's basketball program, athletic director Lee Reed released a brief statement on the coaching status of Patrick Ewing.
The announcement was not what many expected from the AD of one of college basketball's biggest brands. Not when the program is 0-18 in Big East play and on the precipice of setting the worst conference record in league history, per Patrick Stevens.
Reed supported Ewing in his statement, committing to the program's greatest player for at least one more season.
Ultimately, all this statement does is buy the department more time to prove their risky decision to bring back a program legend as head coach was not the wrong one.
"We are committed to Coach Ewing, and we are working with him to evaluate every aspect of the men's basketball program and to make the necessary changes for him to put us back on the path to success for next year," a portion of the statement read.
"Coach Ewing's dedication as well as his success in last year's Big East Tournament is a testament to his leadership. This gives us the confidence that he can strengthen our program going forward."
Fans, though, are not aligned with their AD's sentiments. How many times does a coach without a storied coaching legacy, at one of the premier programs in the country, survive going winless in conference play (or nearly winless if the Hoyas shock Xavier on Saturday)? It doesn't happen. Any coach that doesn't have Ewing or Thompson as their last name is gone. Coaches at smaller programs have been fired for much less.
If the goal of the statement was to instill confidence in the program's supporters, fans probably have to go back to before Ewing's tenure to say the last time they were confident.
When Georgetown hired Ewing to be its head coach in 2017 there were two facets in reaction. One celebrated the greatest player in program history coming back to his alma mater. It was a reminder of when the Hoyas were at the pinnacle of the sport.
Others were skeptical because this situation could end badly and sour the relationship between the two. It could create a distressing scenario Georgetown could one day have to fire the greatest player in team history.
It's a slippery slope and not the first time a school was stuck. Instances in recent years where programs got caught in a bad situation with notable alumni include Kevin Ollie (Connecticut), Chris Mullin (St. John's) and Ed DeChellis (Penn State).
Certainly, some legendary coaches have gotten the job done at their own school. However, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams, Gary Williams, Bob Huggins and others didn't exactly have the storied playing career and legacy of Ewing at Georgetown.
Once Ewing showed the first signs of success as a head coach, Georgetown was reportedly quick to reward him. After the Hoyas' 2021 underdog run to a Big East title and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015, they gave Ewing an extension that was reported over 10 months later by Jon Rothstein.
The assumption was that the tournament bid would at least buy Ewing some time, allow him to settle into a groove after his tumultuous start and keep the program afloat as he refined his coaching abilities. He showed he is capable of coaching at a high level and getting a young, inexperienced squad to the tournament.
Many of his doubters were proved wrong with the Hoyas' unpredictable March in 2021. But Georgetown was poised for such promise this year - the highest of Ewing's tenure - only to fall flat and post a historically bad season. Now, he has another year without any indication that next season will be better than the current one.
If you're one that follows trends and numbers, Ewing at the helm of Georgetown for 2022-23 is more likely to reflect the three where he posted a 10-44 Big East record than the two where he was 16-18 with an NCAA and NIT bid. Not once in five years has his team finished with a winning record in conference play.
One NCAA appearance in four tournaments might be enough to justify Ewing's tenure as an attempt to re-energize the fan base. Ewing showed that he was deserving of a shot to be a head coach somewhere given his tenure as an NBA assistant. A program like Georgetown though? That's not usually where a first-time head coach gets to learn the ropes of the profession.
Georgetown not addressing the program's struggles was not tenable. No longer does it seem to be 'if' but 'when' there is a parting of ways. Prolonging the inevitable just gives Ewing another chance to prove the administration's staff was right in their risk assessment. But when the split does come to fruition, it's not going to be Patrick Ewing the fanbase is upset with.