This is where the BB&T Classic came into play. This is the disclaimer part of the column: I have served on the board of the Children’s Charities Classic since it was formed in 1994, and my main responsibility has been persuading coaches to bring their teams to play.
When the event was conceived, the idea was to have Maryland and Georgetown co-host and bring in two national teams for a two-day tournament. That would mean Maryland and Georgetown might play on the second day. Williams instantly said yes to the idea. Thompson didn’t return a phone call from Bob Whitmore, the former Notre Dame star who is now a lawyer in town and a founding board member. Whitmore volunteered to call Thompson because they had known each other since high school.
The tournament went on without Georgetown, as GW stepped in as co-host. In 17 years, the event has raised close to $9 million for children’s charities in the D.C. area. The board, mostly through Chairman Peter Teeley, has tried repeatedly to get Georgetown to play. Every approach has been rebuffed, including an offer, after the BB&T became a single-day event in 2005, to play Holy Cross — a team Georgetown initially said it would be willing to play.
Thompson insists that he has nothing to do with Georgetown’s insistence on not playing. He told me on the phone in December that Georgetown’s initial refusal to play did have to do with long-held grudges involving Maryland, but “I’m out of it now. I do not tell John [Thompson III, his son and current Georgetown coach] or anyone how to schedule.”
A year ago, Teeley and I met with Anderson and Williams to discuss a plan to get Georgetown to play: the idea was to play the event one year at Verizon Center and one year at Comcast Center. The long-owed game would be forgiven and forgotten.
We then approached Georgetown alumnus Ted Leonsis about using his influence at Georgetown to try to make this happen. His initial response was, “Let me talk to Jack,” as in Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. For several months we heard nothing further. Finally, when I asked if any progress had been made, Leonsis responded with an e-mail: “Not going to happen.”
DeGioia did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment.
That’s where it is now: completely stalled. Anderson has set the process back with his public declaration. Georgetown is now dug in even further and can justify not playing Maryland by saying, “We won’t be bullied.”
It never should have come to this. They should have been playing each other every year and, in my biased opinion, they should have been donating one-third of the proceeds to charity.
It’s a shame when egos and politics blind people. I don’t want to hear any more blathering or excuses from either side.
Shut up and play.
For John Feinstein’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/feinstein. For more by the author, visit his blog at www.feinsteinonthebrink.com.