University, Lonergan settle legal dispute one year after dismissal

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

Former men's basketball head coach Mike Lonergan signals to his team.

The University and former men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan settled their year-long legal dispute Wednesday.

About one year after Lonergan was dismissed as head coach following allegations of verbal abuse from players, both parties reached a settlement, according to a joint statement issued Wednesday afternoon. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

According to the statement, GW terminated Lonergan from his position Sept. 17 and shortly after he informed the University he was considering legal action for “breach of his employment contract with GW and for defamation because his termination was improper and without just cause.”

“GW denies Mr. Lonergan’s allegations, denies that the University or any of its employees acted wrongly or have any liability, and has no comment on the veracity of the media reports whose accuracy Lonergan disputes,” the statement reads. “Mr. Lonergan and the University have reached a settlement that will avoid litigation and put this dispute behind them.”

The University “appreciates” Lonergan’s positive contributions to the men’s basketball program, including taking the team to the NCAA tournament in 2014 and winning the NIT Championship in 2016, according to the statement.

Andy Phillips, a partner at Clare Locke LLP and Lonergan’s attorney, said in a statement to The Hatchet that the terms of the settlement are confidential, but “Lonergan is pleased that the dispute regarding the circumstances of his departure from George Washington University could be resolved amicably.”

“Coach Lonergan wishes the University and its basketball program well, and he looks forward to resuming his coaching career when the right opportunity presents itself,” Phillips said in a statement.

After allegations of verbal and emotional abuse against the coach surfaced in July of last year, the University launched an independent Title IX investigation with outside council to assess the allegations. The University stayed quiet about the investigation until Lonergan was dismissed in September of last year.

Officials then said the investigation found he “engaged in conduct inconsistent with the University’s values.”

Maurice Joseph was then named interim head coach for the men’s basketball team. Joseph, who had played for Lonergan at Vermont from 2008 to 2010 and was a part of his coaching staff for five years, was officially named head coach in March.

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