scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Ed Cooley’s move to Georgetown really stings

It's going to take Friars fans a long time to love Ed Cooley again.Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

If Rhode Island’s congressional delegation is ever going to support statehood for Washington, D.C., there’ll have to be some sort of handshake agreement that D.C. stops poaching all of our most talented people.

First, it was the governor. Then it was Providence’s police chief. Now it’s our beloved basketball coach, who won two state championships as a kid at Central High School and then rebuilt Providence College men’s basketball into a perennial contender in the Big East.

With all due respect to former governor Gina Raimondo, who left Rhode Island to be President Biden’s commerce secretary, and Hugh Clements, who exited the city’s Police Department for a gig in the Justice Department, Ed Cooley’s announcement Monday that he is bolting the Friars’ program for Georgetown stings the most because it makes the least sense.


It was always fairly clear that Raimondo’s ambition would take her to Washington at some point. She got vetted to be Biden’s vice president, and has brought more energy to the Commerce Department than anyone as seen in years. Her jump to the national stage has only brightened her star within the Democratic Party.

Clements will be remembered as one of the greatest police chiefs Providence has ever had, but there were plenty of signs he was getting ready to leave. His name had been tied to jobs with Raimondo when she was governor, as well as to Amtrak and the US Marshals Service before he finally became director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) in the Justice Department. He’ll do that job for a few years, and then he’ll get rich as a lobbyist.

Raimondo and Clements moved on to bigger and better things. Not Cooley.

He’s stepping down from Providence to take a step down to Georgetown, which went 13-50 over the past two seasons and was arguably just the fourth-best team in D.C. this year, behind the likes of Howard (which made the NCAA Tournament), American University (which beat the Hoyas in November, 74-70), and George Washington (which won twice as many games this season).


Sure, the chance to turn around the Hoyas is about more than just basketball and the boatload of cash Georgetown is reportedly planning to pay him.

It’s a program that became a dynasty in the 1980s with legendary head coach John Thompson, who played at Providence College and became the first Black coach ever to win a national championship when the Hoyas beat Houston in 1984. Cooley reveres the Thompson family, and after Patrick Ewing’s disastrous tenure, perhaps he wants to prove that a Black coach can still win at a high level at Georgetown.

That all makes for a lovely story – and hopefully Cooley does restore pride to that program – but that doesn’t make it any less of a wrestling heel move to be the first coach in Big East history to jump to a different school in the same conference. It’s okay for fans to be upset with him right now, and to boo him out of the gym when the Hoyas visit the Amica Mutual Pavilion next season.

Raimondo gets a hero’s welcome every time she returns to Rhode Island. She actually flew back here for dinner when she was the designated survivor for Biden’s State of the Union last year. Clements was mobbed by supporters after walking in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Providence last weekend.


It’s going to take a little more time to love Cooley again.

Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.