Fired George Washington coach's lawyers fire back by claiming wrongful termination

Mike Lonergan took GW to an NIT title last season. USATSI

On Friday, George Washington University fired basketball coach Mike Lonergan. Now, Lonergan and his legal team are pushing back.

According to the coach's attorneys, their client wasn't given due process, and the means by which the school fired him fell short of acceptable business practice to the point where Lonergan's lawyers are claiming the school violated its own policies. Lonergan was never given a proper review process by way of an official board hearing. According to Lonergan's legal team, the decision to fire him was made only after an independent review was completed.

Lonergan was accused by multiple unnamed players of varying forms of verbal abuse, in addition to making inappropriate comments about GW athletic director Patrick Nero, and even allegedly making ill-suited remarks about opposing players. This in turn led some players to abandon the program and play elsewhere.

A tedious legal battle is sure to come. Lonergan's firing comes after a six-week independent investigation that included dozens of interviews with members of George Washington's basketball team, its coaching staff and multiple people who work inside GW's athletic department.

Here is the full statement from Lonergan's legal team:

"George Washington University terminated Coach Lonergan's employment with almost five years remaining on his contract. He cooperated fully with the university's Title IX review. The university never identified to the coach his accuser, much less the details and the substance of the anonymous accusations. He was denied administrative due process in the form of a hearing as required by his contract and the policies of the University.

"The University failed and refused to give Coach Lonergan written notice of the outcome of the Title IX review, which is required by the university's own policy, and the university violated the confidentiality provisions of the policy by issuing a press release about the review. He will seek appropriate relief from the university for this wrongful termination and treatment. Coach Lonergan has been a college basketball coach for twenty-eight years with a superior, unblemished reputation for inspiring and protecting his players. He has graduated every single player he recruited. Last season Coach Lonergan coached the team to its best single season in program history and led the team to its first ever NIT championship. He is the father of five young children.

Coach Lonergan wants to thank those current and former players, their parents, his former staff and colleagues, and others who have supported him throughout his coaching career. He looks forward to coaching at another school in the future."

The school's provost, Forrest Maltzman, issued a press release on Saturday. In it, he claimed a 'thorough investigation' into multiple allegations against Lonergan turned up a enough evidence that the school concluded "Lonergan had engaged in conduct inconsistent with the university's values."

"The university has created and is committed to maintaining a community where all students, faculty and staff feel welcome and comfortable," Maltzman's statement reads. "We value inclusion and diversity and will not tolerate conduct that runs counter to those principles."

An interim coach is expected to be named by the end of this week. George Washington begins practice for the upcoming season in less than two weeks.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories