Patrick Nero resigns as George Washington Athletic Director

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It was announced via Twitter Monday afternoon that Patrick Nero will be resigning as Athletic Director at George Washington. His resignation will be effective December 31st.

Nero’s resignation comes just 15 months after the firing of Mike Lonergan and just weeks after the inauguration of the new President of the University, Thomas LeBlanc.

Nero arrived in Foggy Bottom in April 2011, after spending time as AD at the University of Maine and as the Commissioner of the America East Conference. Just a month after his arrival, Patrick hired Mike Lonergan as the Head Coach of GW men’s basketball. The two had known each other for years, as Lonergan had been coaching at the University of Vermont at the same time as Nero was commissioner of the Catamounts’ conference.

Under Lonergan, GW basketball returned to national prominence, appearing in the NCAA Tournament in 2014, the first time in seven years at the time. The Colonials also won their first ever postseason tournament, winning the NIT Tournament in 2016. But then things took a turn for the worse.

On July 21, 2016, The Washington Post released an exposé article on George Washington’s basketball program. Most of the article focuses on Mike Lonergan, accusing him of verbal abuse of players and making homophobic slurs towards players. However, in the same article, there were also some shocking allegations made about Patrick Nero as well.

Players said Lonergan shared his distaste for Nero in a manner both inappropriate and outlandish. Five current and former players said Lonergan made explicit remarks about Nero, among them telling them to avoid Nero because he was obsessed with them.

Five current and former players said Lonergan told players Nero requested the practice tapes so he could masturbate while viewing them in his office. The players said Lonergan also told them Nero had engaged in a sexual relationship with a member of the team. Players said they found those comments to be shocking and offensive, with no grounding in reality.

It is unclear to this day what really did and did not happen during the tenure of both Mike Lonergan and Patrick Nero at GW. The whole situation is quite bizarre, in that the two knew each other prior to coming to George Washington, not to mention Nero was the one who brought Lonergan into GW in the first place. It is unclear to this day if any of the allegations made against either party has any merit to it. The one thing that does appear indisputable is over the course of their tenure in Foggy Bottom, the relationship between the two degraded rapidly.

At the time Lonergan was fired, there was enormous outcry from former players, most notably Maurice Creek and Isaiah Armwood. Clearly, some players were extremely loyal to Mike. One could even go as far as to say that you were either Team Lonergan or Team Nero: there was no in between.

This whole “saga” has put a cloud of uncertainty over GW basketball, and at times, has lead to some feeling like they are walking on pins and needles, avoiding the elephant in the room. It may be best for the good of the program, and the university as a whole, to finally be able to put this whole mess behind them.

Despite the uncertainty around the men’s basketball program, GW women’s basketball arguably was the most successful team under Nero. The Colonials appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and 2016 after winning the A-10 regular season title and A-10 Tournament both times. After the departure of Johnathan Tsipis, Nero made arguably his best hire during his six years in Foggy Bottom, luring former UConn star Jennifer Rizzotti away from Hartford, where she had spent the past 17 seasons as head coach.

During his time in Foggy Bottom, GW Athletics saw great success over all sports. Per GWSports.com:

“13 different GW Athletics teams won championships in their respective sports with 22 championships won in all, with 18 Coach of the Year honors accumulated. In addition to the championships won in competition, GW student-athletes also claimed back-to-back NCAA Team Works Division I Championships under Nero by performing more hours of community service than any other school nationwide in each of the last two years.”

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Daniel Frank is a member of the George Mason Class of 2022. He graduated high school from The Academy For Individual Excellence in Louisville, KY. He has written for several blogs, and has been published in The Washington Post. Daniel has been following GW basketball since he was 2 months old, but has started following his Mason since being accepted in 2016.

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