- The Washington Times - Friday, September 28, 2007

The Georgetown basketball program announced its most important signing in decades yesterday.

Ending months of speculation, the university said coach John Thompson III has been rewarded with a six-year contract extension that will keep him with the Hoyas through at least 2013.

Though monetary specifics were not disclosed, sources estimated the value of the deal at roughly $900,000 a season, almost doubling the coach’s salary over the last three seasons.

“Georgetown University appreciates Coach Thompson’s leadership of the men’s basketball program,” Georgetown president Jack DeGioia said. “Off the court, he is an esteemed all-around contributor to the university community and the city of Washington. He has done an outstanding job, and this contract extension means he can continue to build upon the program’s tradition of success for many years to come.”

The announcement comes five months after Georgetown completed its most successful season in more than 20 years. Thompson’s Hoyas won the Big East regular season and the conference tournament title en route to the program’s first appearance in the Final Four since 1985.

In his three seasons at Georgetown, Thompson helped restore prominence to the program his Hall of Fame father built into a national power in the 1980s. Thompson took over a team that finished 13-15 under Craig Esherick in 2004 and coached it to the NIT (19-13) in 2005, the NCAA Sweet 16 (23-10) in 2006 and a 30-7 record and the Final Four last season.

That three-year turnaround, along with the Thompson name and his Princeton-based offense, made the 41-year-old a hot coaching commodity. At least two different NBA teams pursued Thompson in the offseason, but the coach’s D.C. roots, an impressive returning roster and some top recruits kept him committed to Georgetown.

“I’m extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to do something that I love to do at a place where I love to do it,” Thompson said.

The extension announcement accompanies a number of other developments concerning the program:

• The school’s principal student newspaper, the Hoya, recently reported that Georgetown has petitioned local zoning authorities for consent to move forward on plans to build a 90,000-square foot athletic training facility on the site of the current tennis courts adjacent to decrepit McDonough Gymnasium. The initial zoning hearings are scheduled to begin next month.

• Later today, the top recruit in the class of 2008, Greg Monroe, is scheduled to announce his finalists. A 6-foot-10, 226-pound frontcourt force from Harvey, La., Monroe is expected to pick three from among a four-team pack of suitors, including Duke, Georgetown, Louisiana State and Kansas. Locking down Thompson and pushing for facilities’ upgrades certainly can’t hurt the Hoyas in the Monroe sweepstakes.

• Finally, Georgetown will welcome a number of alumni for homecoming this weekend. Dovetailing with other homecoming festivities, Thompson and his wife, Monica, will launch their foundation targeted primarily at aiding at-risk District youth and their families with a series of events. The concluding gala will be a dinner tomorrow night co-chaired by Georgetown alum Ted Leonsis at the Ronald Reagan Building.

Georgetown returns to the court next month with a team ranked in the top 10 by every preseason publication. With four starters and eight of nine principals returning from last season’s Final Four team, the Hoyas are again among the favorites to challenge for the NCAA title.

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