Men’s basketball players allege verbal, emotional abuse from Lonergan

Current and former men's basketball players and staffers said head coach Mike Lonergan created an uncomfortable team environment. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor
Current and former men’s basketball players and staffers said head coach Mike Lonergan creates an uncomfortable team environment. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Updated: July 21, 2016 at 10:52 p.m.

Fifth-year men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan has come under fire for “verbal and emotional abuse” of players, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The article cites former and current men’s basketball players as well as team staffers who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The allegations follow three offseason transfers from the program, and a total of 13 transfers in the past five years.

“I don’t think the guy should be in sports,” one former player told the Post. “I don’t think what he said should be tolerated. I would like to stay at GW. I will not play for Mike Lonergan.”

“A lot of kids transfer because they have delusions of grandeur,” a former team staffer added. “Nobody transferred from GW with delusions of grandeur. They just transferred because they hated him. They couldn’t stand another second of him.”

One complaint was filed to Title IX Coordinator Rory Muhammad as recently as early April, following the team’s 2016 NIT Championship, according to the Post. The player said Lonergan created an offensive, uncomfortable environment and complained the coach had made repeated graphic remarks about Athletic Director Patrick Nero.

Muhammad told the player that Lonergan’s behavior had previously been “handled,” according to the Post.

Among other complaints, five current and former players said Lonergan told them Nero “requested the practice tapes so he could masturbate while viewing them in his office.” Other current and former players said Lonergan told one player in front of the team that “he should transfer to a ‘transgender league.’”

“I will not respond to anonymous, unfounded allegations,” Lonergan told the Post. “These types of accusations have already been investigated by the University and found to be groundless.”

“Those who know me know that I conduct myself and run my program with integrity. I have a long record of graduating student-athletes who go on to be successful in life. I am proud of my student-athletes’ success on the court and in the classroom, and I am focused on preparing for the upcoming season,” he added.

“As reported today by the Washington Post, the George Washington University is undertaking a Title IX review of allegations against men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan,” a university spokesman told the Hatchet in an emailed statement Thursday. “Some of the reported allegations go beyond the scope of Title IX, and the university is bringing in outside counsel to assist in its investigation.  The university expects full cooperation and will not tolerate retaliation during the course of the investigation.  We will also continue to inform the student-athletes on our men’s basketball team of the university’s support and of the resources available to them.”

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the Washington Post article was published Wednesday. It was published Thursday. We regret this error.

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