A "small group of alumni and friends" of Georgetown University have purchased a $350,000 house in Northwest Washington for use by Basketball Coach John Thompson, according to the University.
The house, at 4881 Colorado Ave. NW, will be owned by the university, which said the alumni, all of whom wished to remain anonymous, wanted the house to be used as a residence for all Georgetown basketball coaches.
"The house is owned by Georgetown," said the school's public relations director, Wes Christenson. "If Coach Thompson left the university in three years, he would not take the house with him."
Dave Fulghum, University News Bureau director, said, "It was hard to miss the news of the offers Coach Thompson was getting from other schools earlier in the year. Two or three schools made substantial, even incredible offers. This was in no way connected to the university's decision to let Coach Thompson use the house. The alumni who made the purchase were concerned that Georgetown couldn't match some of the offers Coach Thompson was getting. Their gift to Georgetown is evidence of the esteem in which he is held."
Thompson said he was pleasantly suprised when he heard of the purchase this summer. "The house didn't have anything to do with my decision to remain at the university. That makes it more gratifying for me because the house was not an inducement from the university to stay. It was just a token of appreciation."
Thompson said he knows of several similar instances where universities have housed faculty. Asked if a $350,000 house was out of the ordinary, Thompson replied, "The house is the property of the university. It would be nicer if it was mine. I wish it was. I've been looking to live closer to Georgetown since I started here, but I can't afford a house in Georgetown. I wish I could line on the campus."
Thompson and his family now live in Northwest Washington near Catholic University.
William R. Scott, Georgetown dean of student affairs, said, "As far as we're concerned, it's a nice tribute to Coach Thompson."
Asked if the alumni contributors stipulated that the university had to use the property as a residence for Thompson, Scott said, "That's the rationale behind the whole thing."
With the university in full ownership of the property, Fulghum said, it could use the property however it sees fit.
"In order to encourage gifts to the university it would be in the best interests of the university to accede to the wishes of the people making the donation," he said. "In the classic sense, this was a restricted gift targeted for a specific use. If Coach Thompson wasn't winning basketball games, I'm sure there might not be such a magnificent gift."
Roz Hiebert, director of public information for the University of Maryland, said the type of housing arrangement for Thompson is "not common for the University of Maryland. We have a house for the chancellor and a house for the president and that's it. Even for many university presidents, it's not common to be given a house like that to live in."