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Kelsey changes mind, backs out as UMass coach

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — Former Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey has backed out of an agreement to take over at UMass, citing personal reasons.

UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said Thursday that Kelsey asked to be let out of his contract that was signed Tuesday, making clear that it was for “very personal” reasons.

Kelsey said in a statement released by the university that he is sorry and felt welcome while on campus.

Kelsey was scheduled to meet with reporters on Thursday, but UMass abruptly canceled just before the press conference was set to begin.

UMass fired Derek Kellogg after the Minutemen finished 15-18 this season. The team was 155-137 overall in nine seasons under Kellogg and just 67-83 in Atlantic 10 play.

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GEORGETOWN FIRES THOMPSON AFTER ANOTHER LOSING YEAR

WASHINGTON (AP) — John Thompson III was fired as Georgetown’s basketball coach Thursday after two consecutive losing seasons at the school his father led to a national championship.

Thompson said in a statement released by agent David Falk that he was “honored” to have been the Hoyas’ coach and proud of what his players have “accomplished on the court and how they are thriving since leaving Georgetown.”

“Georgetown Basketball has been a part of my life since 1972,” Thompson’s statement said, referring to the year his father took over as the Hoyas’ coach, “which makes this moment even more impactful, but I look forward to my next chapter.”

School president John DeGioia told Thompson on Thursday he would not be brought back next year at a basketball program strongly associated with his last name.

“Our tradition of excellence as a university will forever be inextricably linked with John and his family,” DeGioia said in a statement. “We are committed to taking the necessary steps to strengthen our program and maintaining the highest levels of academic integrity and national competitiveness.”

Thompson, known as “JT3,” was Georgetown’s head coach for 13 seasons, including a run to the Final Four in 2007 with future NBA players Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert on the roster. But he went a combined 29-36 the past two years, with some of those defeats punctuated by crowd chants of “Fire Thompson!”

What had once been unimaginable — a Thompson being sent away from Georgetown — became a topic of conversation among the team’s fans as the losses mounted.

When the subject was broached with Thompson after a defeat against defending national champion Villanova, a team spokesman jumped in to say: “Leave it to game-related questions, please.”

The search for a replacement will be led by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, vice chair of Georgetown’s board of directors, and athletic director Lee Reed.

The Hoyas’ 14-18 record this season included six losses in a row to finish and marked the team’s worst winning percentage since the 1950s. They went 15-18 a year ago, losing seven of their last eight games.

“We’re not going to keep rehashing last year,” Thompson said before the start of this season. “A lot of introspection where you just stop and, from top to bottom, look at everything: How you do things, how you approach things, how we should change things, how you should alter things. … We have to make some changes on how things were done, and we have. We’re in the process of doing it.”

Not quickly enough, apparently.

Thompson’s record was 278-151 at Georgetown, with eight trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Since that lone Final Four appearance a decade ago, the Hoyas had several missteps at the Big Dance, going 3-6 and never winning more than one game in any single bracket. There were plenty of memorable exits against low-seeded opponents such as Florida Gulf Coast and Ohio.

His father, John Thompson Jr., led the Hoyas to 20 trips to the NCAAs, three Final Fours and a national title in 1984 with Patrick Ewing at center while coaching the team from 1972-99. “Big John,” as many call him, has been a visible and vocal presence at Georgetown’s games during his son’s tenure, often sitting in on news conferences and interjecting his thoughts from the back of the room.

Georgetown’s new on-campus practice facility, which was opened with a dedication ceremony in October, is named after the older Thompson.

___

AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

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