Sports world meets real world

Nothing has dominated GW sports more than the recent resignation of Tom Penders and the hiring of Karl Hobbs, a former eight-year assistant coach at the University of Connecticut. Penders stepped down amid scandal citing exhaustion April 20 and Hobbs replaced him May 7.

But that’s the short list. There are others leaving GW. In a couple weeks, thousands of seniors and graduate students will be begin their descent upon the real world, stepping away from GW. Of course that’s not exactly news. Graduation is something we’ve come to expect.

What we didn’t expect was a notable sophomore would also be leaving for the real world, or a pseudo real world at best. GW men’s basketball player SirValiant Brown will pursue life in the National Basketball Association.

Brown made it official May 1 saying he will enter the NBA Draft. Brown has said he can play at the next level, but others doubt his ability and shooting percentage. There are also questions of his academic standing at GW.

It’s rare when the sports world meets the real world. But GW sports had its share this year. Here is a retrospective that links the tragic, the wonderful and the embarrassing.

The Hatchet’s former editor in chief, Rich Murphy, broke a story Monday, April 16. Men’s basketball player Attila Cosby would return to court June 25 to face nine counts of misdemeanor sexual abuse, theft and weapons possession.

The problem wasn’t the re-trial, it was that Penders kept the trial a secret from Athletic Director Jack Kvancz. Penders knew in February Cosby was headed for retrial.

GW athletes who face serious charges are usually suspended from their team.

In that same week, four GW basketball players admitted to breaking the NCAA’s extra benefit rules by illegally using Tom Penders Jr.’s personal phone code.

According to reports, Marquin Chandler obtained the code, made $500 to $600 in calls and provided the access number to Mike King, Darnell Miller and Bernard Barrow. Kvancz has said they would pay the phone bills.

The following Friday Penders hastily called a press conference to announce his resignation. He cited exhaustion from more than 30 years of basketball and said it was time for a sabbatical.

That’s the bad. But don’t forget the team erased a mediocre regular season (14-18) with an exciting run in the Atlantic10 Tournament in Philadelphia. The best win came in the quarterfinals, with a Colonials upset of Xavier. GW advanced to the semifinals, but Temple’s Lynn Greer connected on three free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining to give Temple a 77-76 victory.

About the same time as Penders’ resignation, there were rumors GW women’s basketball coach Joe McKeown was a leading candidate to replace Penders. McKeown said his loyalty to his team was the force held him from accepting the position. He would have been the first coach to make the leap since Speedy Morris, who became men’s coach at La Salle in 1987.

Who could blame McKeown for pulling out of the race? In the sports world it would have made a great story. But in the real world, why would McKeown leave his successful and well-mannered women’s basketball team? Without sparking any controversy, the women’s team made the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time since McKeown took over before for the 1989-90 season. The Colonials lost in the West Regional first-round game in Norman, Okla., to Stanford University.

It seems the bad overshadowed the good this year, which is too bad.

But there was a lot of good.

The GW gymnastics team won the A-10 title. Senior Darden Wilee was named A-10 performer and student of year. The Colonials advanced to the NCAA Regionals in Gainesville, Fla., where they placed fourth. The Colonials ended their season ranked 17th in nation. No GW gymnastics team has ever been ranked that high.

The GW women’s water polo team, in its second season as a varsity team, proved it is one of the top teams in the country by advancing to the Eastern Championships in April. Both women’s rowing and tennis teams placed second at the A-10s.

The GW baseball team is headed to Disneyland for the A-10 Championships May 17.

But perhaps no incident rocked GW athletics harder than the death of volleyball coach Yvette Moorehead in early August. Moorehead’s death should put things into perspective – the hype, positive and negative, surrounding the men’s basketball team seems a little absurd given the realities of the real world.

Following an August 10 volleyball practice, a day when Moorehead failed to show up for practice, Kvancz called a meeting for players in the Smith Center to announce Moorehead had been found dead inside her Arlington, Va., home. Jojit Coronel was named interim head coach, and the team began practicing for the upcoming season opener, the Chesapeake Invitational.

The team dedicated the season to Moorehead, and five months later they won the A-10 title. The sports world triumphed over tragedy in a collision with the real world.

Good luck graduates.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.