Mike Lonergan's turnaround campaign with the George Washington men's basketball program paid off.
Lonergan, who directed GW to a 24-9 season and its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007, has been given a contract extension through the end of the 2020-21 season, athletic director Patrick Nero announced on Friday.
Predicted to finish 10th in Atlantic 10 preseason poll, the Colonials ended the season tied for third in a conference that sent six teams to the NCAA's. GW's 24 wins tied as the second-most in a season in the program's 100-year history, which now includes 11 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances. The Colonials, who played the second half of the season without injured guard and second-leading scorer Kethan Savage, lost to Memphis in the Round of 64.
"As we continue to strengthen our athletic program, it is important to look well into the future," said Nero, who hired Lonergan following the 2010-11 season. "Securing strong, stable leadership for our men's basketball program was a high priority. Mike has succeeded in bringing high quality young men to GW, and we are proud of how they have developed both on and off the court."
Lonergan, a Bowie native with previous local ties on the high school and college level, previously coached Vermont to the NCAA Tournament and Catholic University to the Division III championship. He originally signed a five-year contract with GW starting with the 2011-12 campaign. Replacing former head coach Karl Hobbs, Lonergan won 23 games over his first two seasons before topping that total by one in the 2013-14 campaign.
"When I was hired at GW three years ago it fulfilled a career-long dream to coach at the highest level of college basketball," Lonergan said. "Having had the opportunity to return to my roots and once again coach in the area where I grew up, it's now my truest hope that this will be where I retire. I'm very grateful to be able to coach this proud program, and I want to thank President Knapp, Patrick Nero, my family, friends, players, assistants and staff who have helped to make this possible."
Though GW loses three players to graduation - leading scorer Maurice Creek, top rebounder Isaiah Armwood and senior Nemenja Mikic - the forecast remains sunny for the Foggy Bottom program. Rising juniors Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen, Joe McDonald and Savage make up the team's core and Lonergan has a five-player recruiting class coming in for the 2014-15 season.
A 25-year college coaching veteran including 21 as head coach, Lonergan's overall record is 424-203. He was named the 2001 Division III National Coach of the Year and America East Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2011.
"He has done everything we have asked of him in building a strong community around our team - and our alumni, students and fans in Washington, D.C. and around the world have responded with tremendous support for the program," Nero said. "We want this past season to be the foundation for a basketball program that can continue to grow and flourish under Mike's leadership for many years to come."