After 12 seasons at PC, Ed Cooley is resigning to take over at Georgetown
By KEVIN McNAMARA
Ed Cooley is leaving Friartown.
After holding his ‘dream job’ for 12 seasons and making Providence College a regular on the NCAA Tournament stage, Cooley has decided to leave for another school in the Big East. The 53-year old who grew up in South Providence, a mere mile from the Amica Mutual Pavilion, is headed to coach at Georgetown.
The move within the Big East is a first in conference history and will make for some extremely uncomfortable nights for Cooley and his Hoyas when they play annually in Providence. To say nothing of icy tension between Providence and Georgetown administrators.
Reports of Georgetown identifying Cooley as its replacement for program legend/coach Patrick Ewing have been public for three weeks now. As Cooley’s final Friar team hit a rough losing skid to end the regular season, speculation only intensified. It appears that Cooley’s agent, Dennis Coleman, worked behind the scenes to gauge interest in the pending Georgetown opening.
Providence was bounced out of the Big East Tournament by favored Connecticut, 73-66, but snuck into the NCAA’s as an 11 seed. The Friars were then ushered out of the NCAA’s by favored Kentucky, 61-53, and within 36 hours Georgetown was officially contacting PC athletic director Steve Napolillo for clearance to to speak with Cooley.
“To our fans, let me state this without equivocation: We remain committed to competing at the highest level of men’s basketball,” said PC President Rev. Kenneth Sicard. “Our facilities, our fan support, and our record of success demonstrate the impact of that commitment, and I have full confidence that we will identify and hire a new coach who will build on this strong foundation and lead Friar basketball to continued excellence on a national level.”
On the final edition of his weekly TV coaches show “PC Hoops with Coach Cooley’ the coach was surprisingly open about his thought process. It’s clear that family issues with his wife, Nurys, weighed heavily in the decision.
“Sometimes in life change is needed,” he said, “for emotional stability, for wellness. Just because you’re at a place, that doesn’t mean everything is forever. Providence has always been my dream job and I’ll continue to say that. Sometimes circumstances change and it has nothing to do with administrators, it has nothing to do with athletic directors. It has all to do with where me and my wife feel is something we may possibly need. We don’t know that until we have an open and honest conversation.”
Walking away from a ‘dream job’ rarely happens, but leaving any high-profile job for another is a difficult process. Leaving a place where Cooley and his wife have a lifetime of family and friends is a major decision.
“It is very difficult when you think of a possible change, very difficult when you try to analyze where you are, where you are at and where you’re trying to go,” Cooley said. “That’s something that Nurys and I have been talking about for a couple of years now. We are getting a little bit older. We have lived in our area for 50-plus years. Sometimes you just have to look at things for where you’re trying to go in your future. Everybody is looking at the present. You do not sit in our shoes, you don’t not live the life that we live.”
Cooley went on to point out that he apparently is looking for a destination beyond the one he’s enjoyed in Providence.
“At some point you have to look at where you’re trying to go for your own fulfillment and that doesn’t have anything to do with winning or losing or nothing to do with staying home. It has to do with how are we feeling and how are we moving forward.”
Cooley leaves a winning legacy at Providence, on and off the court. His magnetic personality and Providence Native Son story attracted national attention as the Friars won the 2014 Big East Tournament, captured the 2022 Big East regular season crown and the team won berths in seven NCAA’s in 12 seasons (and 8th in 2020 was denied due to the pandemic). The PC administration used Cooley as the front man for dozens of fundraising opportunities and the results were a smashing success as Athletic Director Bob Driscoll and his top lieutenant Steve Napolillo elevated Providence’s facilities and program funding to levels never before imagined at the school.
Cooley was paid nearly $4 million by Providence this past season, sources said. His new pact at Georgetown is reportedly going to eclipse $5 million a season, which would place Cooley among the top 10 highest paid coaches in the country.
Cooley is responsible for leading the Friars to seven of the program’s 22 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. His record is 3-7 with the best win coming over 8th seeded Southern California on a last-second layup by Rodney Bullock in the 2016 tourney. The 2022 team advanced to the Sweet 16 after wins over 13 seed South Dakota State and 12th seeded Richmond.