A temporary restraining order had been granted against two of those players. One of the players named in the restraining order played Wednesday night in Stillwater, Okla., against Oklahoma State.
Keeping track? If you can’t, Georgetown Coach Patrick Ewing has a written statement for you, issued roughly 10 minutes before the Hoyas tipped off against the Cowboys.
“I address this issue because I don’t want there to be any question about the culture of Hoya basketball,” Ewing said.
He closed by saying he would take no questions on the matter. How’s that for clarity?
Even for the (in)famously opaque Hoyas, this is a doozy. Intentionally or not, Georgetown’s administration — led by Athletic Director Lee Reed — facilitated the idea that one of the transferring players, James Akinjo, had been involved somehow in the legal matters when no public documents indicate that.
Here’s how that played out: Akinjo and sophomore forward Josh LeBlanc were removed from the roster Monday. Georgetown had two choices right then: Explain why — that they intended to transfer — or say nothing.
Georgetown chose Door No. 2 and said nothing. Reporters, left searching for an explanation, went to public records — a logical place to check given the lack of transparency from the school. That uncovered two complaints that named not only LeBlanc but junior forward Galen Alexander and freshman forward Myron Gardner, filed by women who are listed in the Georgetown student directory.
Oh, the important stuff for Hoyas basketball: Alexander played 13 minutes, scored five points and grabbed seven rebounds and Gardner played 10 minutes and had four boards as Georgetown picked up a badly needed road win over previously unbeaten Oklahoma State. Hoya Saxa!
From the complaint against LeBlanc, which also named Gardner:
“Joshua threatened bodily harm against myself and my roommate. . . . He continued to threaten me verbally and via text message in the following weeks.”
From the complaint against Gardner, filed by another woman, which also mentions LeBlanc and Alexander:
“Sexual harassment and assault on 9/15 at my home. Home was burglarized by defendant and two friends on 9/16. . . . These 3 individuals have been harassing and threatening my home and personal harm of bodily injury since reporting” to both District and university police.
The first complaint was filed Nov. 5, the second exactly a week later, Nov. 12. The Hoyas opened the season Nov. 6 against Mount St. Mary’s. LeBlanc didn’t play. Ewing wouldn’t say why. The restraining order against LeBlanc and Alexander — but not Gardner — was issued by D.C. Superior Court on Nov. 20. The next night, LeBlanc and Alexander played in the Hoyas’ victory over Texas at Madison Square Garden.
Follow that timeline and believe Georgetown administrators had the full story by the time of tipoff against the Longhorns if you want. Then read what Ewing said in his pregame statement Wednesday:
“The G we wear on our uniforms is about much more than basketball,” Ewing wrote. “It’s about a culture that expects the best of our players, both on and off the court. Having a strong culture is also about respecting and supporting those members of our community who come forward to report misconduct.”
Hey, young women who complained, we hear you, respect you and support you. Now let me get Alexander and Gardner on the floor because we need some help on the glass.
There’s a lot to digest here. From a media management standpoint — which is about the least important area — Georgetown clearly made a strategic error Monday when it removed Akinjo and LeBlanc from the team and was less than forthright about the reasons. So in the vacuum of information, new, unseemly information emerged. Not that this would have been morally admirable, but had Ewing, Reed, et al. said simply that LeBlanc and Akinjo wanted to transfer, there’s a decent chance the complaints would have remained under the rug, right where the Hoyas wanted them.
In response to questions about the missing information in the original statement, Reed issued a statement to The Washington Post through a university spokesperson Thursday that said, in part, “On behalf of Georgetown Athletics, I acknowledge the language in Monday’s announcement caused confusion and did not provide the clarity it could have.”
So say it was merely a tactical misstep. It still led to the easy, if temporary, conclusion that Akinjo had been involved in something untoward. On Tuesday, Reed issued a statement saying that wasn’t the case. Imagine if the initial release had been honest. No clarifying statement would have been necessary.
About the Hoyas’ culture: Ewing, the former NBA star in his third year leading his alma mater, has taken steps to educate his team on the dangers of mental health issues. In addition, at the start of the academic year, all Georgetown athletes attended a session at which a survivor of campus sexual assault spoke.
Still, informational sessions, even powerful ones, don’t eradicate the two complaints or the temporary restraining order.
A couple of possibilities: The complaints are unfounded, Georgetown administrators have met with Alexander and Gardner and heard their side, and they’re comfortable with the explanation. Reed explained the school’s process, in general terms, in his statement to The Post on Thursday.
“When we learn of allegations against student athletes, our coaching staff will talk to students and learn more,” the statement said. “But we’ve seen too many cases around the country where athletics departments have been accused of circumventing the student conduct process, which can lead to coverups or special treatment for athletes. When we learn of allegations against our players that do not relate to their conduct on the team, we immediately refer it to the same conduct process that any Georgetown student accused of misconduct would face.”
So it’s possible the administration has all the answers it needs. If that’s the case, then say so.
“While we cannot comment on individual cases, we have processes for investigating and adjudicating alleged violations of our student code that are fair to both parties,” Reed said at the tail end of Ewing’s pregame statement Wednesday.
But they don’t have to comment on individual cases if Ewing would say something such as: “I believe in the character and conduct of the players I have remaining on the team and am comfortable that none of them have threatened, harassed or assaulted women. If I had even a sliver of doubt, I wouldn’t be playing them until the process plays itself out.”
Wouldn’t that be more reassuring to the university community than playing players who have been accused of such misdeeds without indicating you have an understanding of the extent of the infractions?
Ewing is the most distinguished alum of Georgetown’s men’s basketball program. The university hired him to restore the Hoyas on the court because that again would provide a national platform to highlight the school’s academic reputation and accomplishments.
What’s important here, of course, isn’t basketball. It’s whether the women who filed the complaints feel supported by the university and safe in their surroundings. LeBlanc is leaving school, but Alexander and Gardner remain and are playing. Are we to take that as a tacit indication that the Hoyas believe they have done nothing wrong? Who knows?
This whole mess started with a simple failure to be sincere about the reasons two players were no longer on the team, and that colors what we can believe going forward.
Read more on college sports: