Following a resurgent season in which the George Washington men’s basketball team went back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years and matched the second-most victories in program history, Coach Mike Lonergan received a contract extension through 2020-21, the school announced Friday morning.
Terms of the deal, which had been in the works over the last several days, were not disclosed, but it officially ends speculation that Lonergan perhaps was heading to Boston College. The Eagles dismissed Steve Donahue last week after four seasons, and Lonergan’s name had surfaced as a leading candidate.
“This time of year there’s always rumors when you have a good year,” Lonergan said in a telephone interview. “I told [the players] all year, ‘Just so you know, we’re going to build this program, and I’m going to be here.’ I told them don’t ever believe [reports stating otherwise]. Those guys should feel good about it because it’s really about the players and the staff I’ve had.”
The Colonials went 24-9 this season and made their 11th appearance in the NCAA tournament. Ninth-seeded George Washington lost to No. 8 seed Memphis, 71-66, last week in the round of 64 in Raleigh, N.C.
Picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic 10 in the preseason, the Colonials secured the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament, where they advanced to the semifinals. GW’s win total was an improvement of 11 games from last season, when Lonergan incorporated his first recruiting class that included a combination of local and international players.
This season, that group helped the Colonials go 14-1 at Smith Center, and Lonergan was able to keep GW in the running for the Atlantic 10 title for most of the season even after starting guard and second-leading scorer Kethan Savage broke his foot Jan. 18.
“Mike has succeeded in bringing high quality young men to GW, and we are proud of how they have developed both on and off the court,” Athletic Director Patrick Nero said in a statement. “He has done everything we have asked of him in building a strong community around our team, and our alumni, students and fans in Washington, D.C., and around the world have responded with tremendous support for the program.”
A native of Bowie who attended high school at Archbishop Carroll and college at Catholic, Lonergan was named GW’s coach in 2011 after six years as coach of Vermont. In 2009-10, Lonergan directed the Catamounts to the NCAA tournament, turning around a team that went 13-17 during his first season in 2005-06.
Before Vermont, Lonergan spent the 2004-05 season as an assistant at Maryland under then-coach Gary Williams. Lonergan’s first head coaching experience came at Catholic, where he won the Division III national championship in 2000-01 and advanced to the region semifinals five times in 12 seasons.
“I’m very happy,” Lonergan said. “Definitely when the opportunity came and I took this job, I planned on being here for a long time. It’s a great place for my family. I think the program has a lot of room for growth. I’m happy with our success this year, but I think we’ve got a long way to go, and I’m definitely excited about the future.”
Feinstein: March Madness goes off-Broadway