Some GW fans present at Friday’s press conference in the Smith Center said they are sorry to see men’s basketball coach Tom Penders leave, but others said are glad he is gone. Nevertheless, all students interviewed for this story agreed that Penders’ resignation speech did not disclose all of his reasons for leaving.
“It looks like there is something more than what they’re saying,” sophomore Jessica Duffy said.
Even though Penders said he made his decision to leave weeks ago, sophomore David Kay questioned the timing of the announcement.
“Yeah right,” he said. “He resigns the next day, one day after The Hatchet article and three days after The Washington Post. It doesn’t make sense.”
Other students said they were surprised GW let Penders step down.
“The resignation was surprising,” sophomore Andy Wilson said. “I was expecting him to be fired.”
Even those who support Penders refused to deny the influence of the past week’s events on Penders’ resignation.
“I’m sad to see him go because his first year was my first year at GW,” junior Jeff Lerner said. “Tommy was my coach, but the circumstances off the court influenced it.”
GW’s athletic department discovered April 13 that players had used the phone code of assistant coach Tommy Penders Jr. to make $1,400 in long-distance calls. Athletic Director Jack Kvancz said April 17 that Tom Penders failed to inform him about new charges against player Attila Cosby.
Penders said his 33 years of coaching had worn him thin, and the three-year GW coach denied any relation between his resignation and off-court incidents. The Colonials finished the season 14-18, their first losing season in more than a decade.
“Anytime you had a season the way he had it, it’s rough,” junior Lee Lubarsky said. “But you can’t overlook the fact that the off-the-court stuff adds to it.”
As for the future of the team, most fans said they are anxious to put allegations, accusations and lost games behind them and move forward.
“Hopefully we will find a new coach that will work with the players and the administration,” Duffy said. “(The players) didn’t want to play for him. We need someone who will get the performance out of them that they know they can give.”
Whatever the case, fans said they have faith in the returning players and in the future of the Colonials program.
“No matter what, having a basketball team is more important than having a coach,” Lubarsky said.