As some of you know, I sent the letter below to Joe Lang (and copied Jack DeGioia) just over three years ago. I am posting it because it makes me chuckle and hopefully it will give you a laugh too.
I also thought it worthy of posting in recognition of how much things have changed in these three years and also as a reminder that our work is not done.
Keep your fingers crossed tomorrow and in the weeks ahead!
January 21, 2003
Mr. Joseph Lang
Washington, D.C. 20057
Dear Mr. Lang:
It is with great dismay that I read your comments in a recent
Washington Post article, “Just Like the Hoyas, Esherick’s Evolving.” I
attended the Georgetown-St. John’s game last weekend, and let me just
say, I have seen nothing like it in my twenty-odd years as a basketball fan and observer.
While I will leave it to others to debate the wisdom or utter stupidity
of offering Coach Craig Esherick a contract extension, what disturbed
me the most were your comments about the state of Georgetown’s basketball program.
To read that making the NCAA tournament is an “unreasonable”
expectation for Georgetown basketball is baffling and troubling.
Whether it’s on the basketball court or in the classroom, Georgetown
University should strive--in all its endeavors--for excellence.
Anything less should not be tolerated.
I need not remind you that Georgetown was once a perennial participant
in the NCAA tournament. Today, Georgetown has too often stood against
the tournament window with its nose pressed against the glass. The
rapid decline of this once-great program has been astounding.
As an alumnus of the College of Arts and Science and a soon-to-be
alumnus of Georgetown Law, my overall concern is that Georgetown retain
the excellent reputation it has worked so long to cultivate.
While I understand that the university does not possess unlimited
financial resources, there is no reason why the basketball program
should be sacrificed at the altar of fiscal restraint and concerns
about improving the university’s academic reputation.
As for fiscal constraints, let’s just say it’s not a radical
proposition that nationally prominent and nationally recognized
athletic teams generate excitement and enthusiasm among alums and
philanthropic donors who may be more inclined to give. To believe
anything else is myopic and short sighted. As Georgetown struggles to
meet the Third Century Campaign goals, the University should not turn
its back on the role sports can play in achieving greater fiscal stability.
As for the athletics v. academics debate, last time I checked Duke,
Stanford, and Northwestern were doing just fine. These schools
recently have used athletics as a vehicle to garner greater attention
and to attract top students without compromising academic integrity.
On the contrary, I submit that Holy Cross stands, in part, as a sad
example of what can happen to a school that turn its back on its athletic traditions and heritage.
Mr. Lang, whose company would you rather keep?
I think I speak for many alums when I say that your recent comments do
not reflect the spirit of Georgetown. Shame on you!