Georgetown hires Providence's Ed Cooley as head coach

Providence head coach Ed Cooley reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
Providence head coach Ed Cooley made this month's NCAA tournament on an at-large bid. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Georgetown has hired its new men's head basketball coach. And that coach is from a conference rival.

Georgetown announced Monday afternoon that it has hired longtime Providence head coach Ed Cooley to replace Patrick Ewing.

Cooley is a Providence native who had been the coach at his hometown university since 2011. He coached the Friars to seven NCAA tournaments, including a run to the Sweet 16 in 2022. Cooley also coached Providence to the Big East tournament title in 2014 and the Big East regular-season title in 2022.

This season, Providence earned a No. 11 seed in the NCAA tournament and lost in the first round to No. 6 seed Kentucky to finish the year with a 21-12 record. It marked the seventh time in Cooley’s 12-season run that the Friars had at least 20 wins. Georgetown hasn’t had a 20-win season since 2015.

"We are deeply honored that Coach Cooley will be joining our community as the next leader of our men's basketball program. Ed is a proven leader and an experienced coach, whose values and knowledge of the game will lead our program into this new chapter," Georgetown president John J. DeGioia said.

Added GU athletic director Lee Reed: "This is an exciting moment for Georgetown men's basketball as we welcome Ed Cooley and his family to the Hilltop. Coach Cooley is a mentor to young men, and a consistent winner with an impressive body of work. His previous experience gives him an understanding of our Jesuit values and I am confident that he is the coach to return our program to prominence within the Big East and nationally."

Georgetown struggled mightily under Patrick Ewing

The Hoyas were once a powerhouse in college basketball under John Thompson Jr., but the program has struggled to win in the past decade. After the tenure of John Thompson III petered out with back-to-back losing seasons in 2016 and 2017, the school brought in Ewing to run the program.

Ewing, of course, was a legend on the court for Georgetown before embarking on a Hall of Fame NBA career. He then spent 15 years as an NBA assistant before being hired by his alma mater. It did not go well.

Ewing was fired earlier this month after Georgetown’s first-round exit from the Big East tournament. With that loss, the Hoyas finished Ewing’s sixth season on the job with a 7-25 record. In 2022, the Hoyas were even worse, going 6-25 without a win in conference play.

Following those two horrific seasons (13-50 overall, 2-37 in Big East play), the school had to move on from Ewing. He finished 75-109 overall at Georgetown. The high marks of his tenure were a 19-14 record and an NIT appearance in 2019 and a remarkable run through the Big East tournament in 2021 to clinch an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. The Hoyas then lost to Colorado in the first round to finish the year 13-13.

The Hoyas have only once reached the NCAA tournament, finished in the top half of the Big East or had a winning record in the past eight seasons. Additionally, the Hoyas haven’t gotten past the second round of the NCAA tournament since 2007.

It will be Cooley’s job to return the program to prominence.

"I am excited for the opportunity to lead the men's basketball program at Georgetown University. President DeGioia and athletics director Lee Reed are united in a strong vision, including in their beliefs, for Georgetown's program, its players and the team's success," Cooley said. "I plan on hitting the ground running, getting to work on the court and cultivating relationships in and around the District. Accepting this opportunity with Georgetown is not a decision I took lightly, and was made in careful consideration with my wife and family."

Cooley, 53, had a 242-153 record in 12 seasons at Providence with one Big East regular-season crown. Before that, he had a five-year run as head coach at Fairfield and spent time as an assistant at Boston College, Rhode Island, Stonehill and UMass-Dartmouth. He has never coached outside of New England.