Mike Lonergan, fired as George Washington men's basketball coach last September amid a university investigation into claims he verbally abused Colonials players, has settled out of court with the school, according to a joint statement from both parties obtained by ESPN on Wednesday.
"Shortly after Mr. Lonergan was terminated, he informed the University that he was considering legal action for breach of his employment contract with GW and for defamation because his termination was improper and without just cause and media reports about his termination contained factual errors and misinformation," the joint statement from the school and Lonergan read.
"GW denies Mr. Lonergan's allegations, denies that the University or any of its employees acted wrongly or have any liability, and has no comment on the veracity of the media reports whose accuracy Lonergan disputes. Mr. Lonergan and the University have reached a settlement that will avoid litigation and put this dispute behind them. The terms of the parties' agreement are confidential."
Lonergan, who coached George Washington to the 2014 NCAA tournament and the 2016 NIT championship and was 97-70 in five seasons at the school, was terminated two weeks before practice began last September. The firing came as the school launched an internal investigation in the wake of a Washington Post report last summer that included accusations that Lonergan had berated and demeaned his players and made offensive and graphic remarks to his team about Colonials athletic director Patrick Nero.
"The terms of the settlement are confidential, but I can say that Coach Lonergan is pleased that the dispute regarding the circumstances of his departure from George Washington University could be resolved amicably," said Andy Phillips, a partner in the libel and litigation firm of Clare Locke LLP based in Alexandria, Virginia.
Thirteen players left the program in five years under Lonergan, who denied the accusations at the time, pointing to the graduation record of his student-athletes and "integrity maintained" at the three schools he has coached. Lonergan previously had head-coaching stints at Vermont and Catholic University of America.
"Coach Lonergan is proud of all that he accomplished on and off the court at GW and feels privileged to have had the opportunity to work with a lot of great student-athletes who have gone on to achieve tremendous success in basketball and in life," Phillips said. "Coach Lonergan wishes the University and its basketball program well, and he looks forward to resuming his coaching career when the right opportunity presents itself."