John Thompson, the first Black man to coach a college basketball team to an NCAA championship and longtime fixture at Georgetown University, has died. He was 78 years old.
Thompson's family confirmed the Hall of Famer's death in a statement released by Georgetown University on Monday.
"We are heartbroken to share the news of the passing of our father, John Thmopson, Jr. Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on, but most importantly, off the basketball court," the family's statement read. "He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all us."
Thompson, a Washington, D.C. native, played college basketball at Providence College in the 1960s before a brief NBA career with the Boston Celtics, where he won two championships.
A statement released on behalf of the Thompson Family pic.twitter.com/UKfVd4LPRP
— Georgetown Hoops (@GeorgetownHoops) August 31, 2020
Shortly after his retirement as a player, Thompson took over the Georgetown program in 1972 at just 31 years old. In three years, Thompson led the team back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three decades.
In the 1980s, Thompson assembled one of the greatest teams in college basketball history — a team that would reach the NCAA Championship game three times in four seasons. Led by future Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, the Hoyas captured the 1984 National Championship with a win over Houston — the first team ever coached by a Black man to be crowned champions.
For 27 seasons, Thompson patrolled the Georgetown sidelines, amassing 596 wins — all while his trademark white towel was slung over his shoulder.
This story is breaking and will be updated.