Former Georgetown men's basketball coach John Thompson was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, his son John Thompson III confirmed last night.
"He was happy," said John Thompson III, an assistant coach at Princeton. "It was something he wanted -- and I'm very proud of him."
The story was first reported on radio station WTEM, for whom Thompson does a daily one-hour talk show. A station source said Thompson called with the news that he received at least the necessary 18 votes from the 24-member honors committee.
Thompson was unavailable to comment. The chief operating officer of the Hall of Fame, Don Gibson, said that Thompson had been informed about how the voting went. Gibson also said those candidates who did not make the Hall of Fame also were notified.
Mount St. Mary's Coach Jim Phelan was among the candidates who did not receive enough votes.
"I don't miss what I never had," Phelan said. "It upsets other people more than it upsets me."
Gibson said the new members will be announced at 11 a.m. today. Georgetown said Thompson would hold a news conference at the school at 1 p.m. should he be elected.
Before abruptly resigning on Jan. 8 after 26-plus seasons, Thompson led the Hoyas to a 596-239 record, three appearances in the NCAA tournament's Final Four and the national championship in 1984. He also was the coach of the 1988 U.S. Olympic team that was upset by the Soviet Union in the semifinal round and won the bronze medal.
In the 1976 Olympics, Thompson assisted Dean Smith on the U.S. team that won the gold medal.
Thompson's off-the-court influence also was immense. In January 1989, he walked off the court before a home game against Boston College in protest of NCAA legislation, known as Proposition 42, that tightened criteria in which students could receive athletic scholarships. He also did not coach the next game against Providence. That walkout and the national debate that followed led to modification of Proposition 42 at the 1990 NCAA convention.
A native Washingtonian, the 6-foot-10 Thompson helped lead Carroll High to a 55-game winning streak in the late 1950s. Providence College won the NIT during Thompson's junior year and made the NCAA tournament his final season. The Friars lost to Villanova in the first round. He later was a backup to Bill Russell with the Boston Celtics.
"He's very bright -- and you knows he cared about his players," former Celtics coach Red Auerbach said. "That's obvious by how many have stayed in such close contact over the years."
DeMatha High Coach Morgan Wootten also was among the 13 finalists announced earlier this month. Late last night Wootten's son, Joe, said his father had not been notified of his status.
Staff writers Leonard Shapiro and Josh Barr contributed to this report.