Former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson and his wife, Gwen, have arrived at a "settlement in principle" of their divorce.
Because the agreement is not yet finalized, lawyers for both sides refused to disclose details of the settlement. "I am generally pleased with the terms, particularly since it provides for our children," said Gwen Thompson in a statement released by her attorney. John Thompson's attorney, Marna Tucker, said, "It's a nice agreement. We should all live so well."
The settlement Thursday appears to avert what promised to be a nasty in-court tussle over the Georgetown legend's many millions, built through his college contract, Nike stock and multiple business and real estate holdings. His attorney already had scheduled depositions of Gwen Thompson's mother and her boss. Her lawyer, Deborah Luxenberg, planned to depose uber-agent David Falk, Georgetown University President Leo O'Donovan and Mary Fenlon.
Fenlon is the former nun who sat at the other end of the Georgetown bench from Thompson for 27 years, as the team's academic adviser. The university announced her retirement last week. Thompson and Fenlon are close companions and business partners, sharing real estate investments with Las Vegas casino executives.
The Thompsons were married 34 years ago today. They separated in 1996 after fire damaged the Northwest Washington home they shared. Gwen Thompson, 56, who works for the Black Student Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to private schools, moved into an apartment on 16th Street with their daughter, Tiffany, now 23. The coaching legend, 57, moved into a Rosslyn penthouse condo purchased for $1.06 million by a company that has Fenlon as a trustee.
Thompson sued his wife for divorce in the fall of 1997, and while attorneys for both sides consistently characterized the proceedings as amicable, Thompson abruptly resigned his coaching job in January and blamed the pending divorce for ruining his focus.
The Thompsons' son Ronnie, 30, remains with Georgetown as an assistant basketball coach. Their son John, 33, is an assistant basketball coach at Princeton University.
In her statement yesterday, Gwen Thompson said, "This settlement was not just about me, it has always been about our family."
John Thompson could not be reached for comment. Since stepping down as Georgetown's coach, he has been busy with his WTEM-AM talk show and deflecting rumors of NBA job offers. On his radio show yesterday, Thompson kept grumbling that he was smiling but unhappy and hummed a song with the refrain, "Smilin' faces, sometimes, tell lies."
CAPTION: Former adviser Mary Fenlon may have been called to testify if the divorce case had gone to court.
CAPTION: Former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson, in perhaps happier times, on the court.