Sitting inconspicuously in the southwest corner of campus, McDonough Arena presents a structure of simplicity and moderation, quite a contrast to the imposing towers of Healy Hall.

“This facility was built in 1950 or 1951, for maybe 100 people. Now, we have almost 800 student-athletes in 29 sports.”

Athletic Director Lee Reed, hired in April of this year, sits in his office very casually. Reed is in his ninth month in his new position, and sat down exclusively with The Hoya to discuss the athletic program, how his first few months have gone, and the impending NCAA certification process Georgetown will soon begin.

Reed was hired after a year-long search to replace his predecessor, Bernard Muir, who departed for the University of Delaware’s athletic director position in May of 2009. Reed served as the Athletic Director at Cleveland State University prior to his arrival on the Hilltop.

“I think people think a great job means you’re not going to have to face any challenges. But I embrace the challenges,” Reed said. “I came here feeling like I could make a difference. [I’m] not trying to change who Georgetown is, that’s pretty well established – 221 years old, I think we know who we are. I just want to be part of the process in helping us improve on who we are. Part of that is in the facilities, part of that is in raising more money for scholarships, part of that is in making sure ours student-athletes have the leadership skills when they leave here to go get jobs . and winning a few championships along the way is not a bad thing.”

In a message to the campus community, President John. J. DeGioia announced that Georgetown would begin a year-long study of its athletics program, required every 10 years.

“It’s an opportunity to have a self-reflection and self-examination,” Reed said. “It’s an opportunity to pause, and take a broad-based approach to evaluating what we’re doing right now and making sure we’re in substantial conformity with NCAA rules and regulations in the areas of gender and diversity, equity, student-athlete welfare, governance and commitment to rules compliance, and academic integrity.”

In the middle of Reed’s office hangs a “Hoya Saxa”-outlined frame, with photos of the campus and various varsity sports. The frame epitomizes Reed’s philosophy of total incorporation by student-athletes into the university’s culture.

“I think when done right, our student-athletes are integrated into the university,” Reed said. “They go to class, they study in the same library, they do things that normal students do. They just have other activities that take a lot of their time.”

Yet as most Hoyas know, the men’s basketball team members are near-celebrities on campus, especially as the national media attention on college basketball has grown over the years.

“Our guys get scrutinized at a very high level. I think it comes with the territory,” Reed said. “In terms of branding, the basketball program, and what it does for the university, I think we’re fortunate in that it has helped with national branding of Georgetown. . A lot of people refer to athletics as the front-porch of a university, in the fact that people think a lot about the university based on the athletic programs, but it gives people an opportunity to further explore what’s going on at the university.”

Reed tried to identify how Georgetown compares overall as a university with other universities, in terms of academic excellence with competitive Division I athletic programs. Mentioning Duke, Stanford and Northwestern, Reed couldn’t help but concede that Georgetown still stands alone, due to its lack of a big-time football program and its Jesuit ideals.

“I’m enrolled in Fr. Burroughs’ Ignatian Seminar. We meet four times a semester and just talk about the tension that exists between the Jesuit values and then running the business of higher education, how we make that work on a daily basis at Georgetown,” Reed said. “It’s about being a good person, it’s about caring about people, it’s about developing the whole person. That’s what our athletic program is.”

Make no mistake – Georgetown athletics are among the most competitive in the country. The Hoyas’ men’s and women’s basketball, sailing, cross country, track and field, soccer and lacrosse programs are among the top-25 teams in their respective domains on an annual basis.

“I mean, we want to win. We’re very competitive, our coaches are competitive, our student-athletes are competitive, but I don’t think we ever lose focus that the real victory is when they walk across the stage after four years of undergraduate at Georgetown, and what it means to them.” 

However, the Blue and Gray don’t have the shiny stadiums to match. MultiSport Facility, where football and lacrosse play, while in the heart of campus, is not particularly awe-inspiring. North Kehoe Field, home to the soccer programs, is tucked away in the corner of the Hilltop’s tallest hill. McDonough Gym, arena for women’s basketball and volleyball, is also tucked away in the Southwest quad, along with the tennis courts. Swimming and diving compete within Yates. Sailing and crew automatically get relegated to the water, but baseball, softball, golf, field hockey and track and field all must compete off-campus. Above all, while men’s basketball does play in 20,000-seat Verizon Center, it still means a 20-minute commute for students from Georgetown.

“We have, frankly, a deficit in terms of facilities for athletics, and we have a plan in place that’s working on that for the next five to 10 years,” Reed said. “But that’s important to us, because I’ve compared it to our professors needing classrooms. Our coaches are educators, and they need labs and classrooms to train their student athletes. They just need reasonable space to do that.”

Facilities are an issue that applies to Georgetown as a whole, however, and as Reed states, so are the goals student-athletes have for their post-Georgetown lives.

“On one end of the spectrum, we have kids that will have an opportunity to go the Olympics because they’re so talented athletically or become professional athletes,” Reed said. “But the thing I’m most proud of in my short time here is this summer, when you see a Jeff Green coming back to school. Why? Because he loves Georgetown, coming back to finish his degree. Greg Monroe is going to do the same thing.”

While Reed emphasized Georgetown’s broader community as the core of the university’s identity, he pointed out athletics’ ability to organize that same community.

“I think what athletics does is it is the emotional connection to the place. It’s the one thing that can bind a community,” Reed said. “The opportunity the athletics program presents to bring people together, from that, then you start to talk about the other great times you had on campus.”

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