Providence men’s basketball coach Ed Cooley is leaving his job for the same role at conference rival Georgetown.
Cooley, 53, grew up in Rhode Island and took over his hometown team in 2011. In 12 seasons, he compiled a 242-153 record, leading the Friars to seven NCAA Tournaments, a Big East tournament title (2013-14), and the program’s first Big East regular-season title. Cooley had Providence ranked as high as No. 8 in the AP poll twice in his tenure.
His best season came last year, when Cooley helped the Friars to a 27-6 record, the conference title, and the Sweet 16 — his furthest run as head coach, and Providence’s best showing since 1997, when they made the Elite Eight. He was awarded with national coach of the year honors.
This season ended for Providence with a first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Kentucky. The Friars lost their last two regular-season games and in the first round of the Big East tournament but earned an at-large NCAA bid.
At Georgetown, Cooley will take over for Patrick Ewing, whose return to his alma mater as head coach went poorly. In his six seasons, the once-proud Hoyas went 75-109 with one NCAA Tournament appearance — 2021, when Ewing coached the squad to a Big East tournament title to earn a bid.
Ewing was fired on March 9, after Georgetown finished 7-25 on the season.
Cooley was asked about the vacancy after the Friars dropped Friday’s game to Kentucky. The initial reply: “Next question.”
When a follow-up query came about whether there was a chance that was his last game with the Friars, Cooley avoided a direct answer.
“There’s all kinds of rumors and speculation, and I know you guys are trying to do your job. I get it,” said Cooley, whose daughter is a student at Georgetown. “But after a game like this, I just think it’s fair to talk about our players. I think it’s fair to talk about the game.”
Cooley’s hiring is the first time a Big East men’s team has poached a coach from within its own conference.
Providence athletic director Steve Napolillo told WPRI that he first learned Georgetown was interested in hiring Cooley on Sunday morning, when Napolillo received a call while he was visiting Cooley and his wife, Nurys, at their home in East Greenwich.
He expressed his frustration at Georgetown’s decision to hire someone from within the conference.
“I don’t believe that anyone can say this is something they’d want to see in the Big East Conference,” he told the TV station. “... I just don’t think it’s a good look for the Big East Conference at all.”
Steve Napolillo on the split with Ed Cooley:— Ian Steele (@IanSteeleABC6) March 21, 2023
"Some sadness. He is Providence."
"I'm excited about having the next coach come in who wants to be here. Who is going to take us to new heights. Build off of what coach did here for 12 years."@ABC6 #PCBB #GoFriars pic.twitter.com/u1zvzsG68e
Cooley has only coached in New England. After starring at Stonehill in the early 1990s, he worked as an assistant at UMass Dartmouth and Stonehill. He coached under Al Skinner at Rhode Island and joined Skinner at Boston College when Skinner took the job in 1997.
He got his first head-coaching job in 2006 at Fairfield, winning a regular-season MAAC title in 2011 before being hired away by Providence.
In a statement issued by Providence College, president Rev. Kenneth R. Sicard offered his gratitude for Cooley.
“I deeply appreciate Coach Cooley’s immense contributions to the men’s basketball program and to the PC community over the past 12 years,” Sicard said. “Friar fans everywhere will be forever grateful for this period of sustained excellence in our program, and I personally will continue to have the highest regard for Ed.”
Cooley, whose daughter Olivia attends Georgetown, will be introduced as the new Hoya head coach on Wednesday.
“I plan on hitting the ground running, getting to work on the court and cultivating relationships in and around the District,” Cooley said in a statement. “Accepting this opportunity with Georgetown is not a decision I took lightly.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Katie McInerney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.