Moving fast to fill the spot created by the departure of Mike Jarvis to St. John's, George Washington University Thursday landed an experienced successor in Tom Penders.
After spending 10 years at Texas and leaving the school under a veil of controversy, Penders returns to the Atlantic 10 where he coached at Rhode Island for two seasons.
"Everything happened so fast," said Penders at a news conference this afternoon. "This is the first time I've ever taken over a program which wasn't in total disarray."
Jarvis left George Washington after eight years at the school to take the head coaching job at St. John's last Thursday. The Colonials reached the finals of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament and finished 24-9 this past season, losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Oklahoma State.
"We have a great prograM and we wanted to find a coach to continue that success," said GW director of athletics Jack Kvancz. "Tom Penders is competitive, he's compassionate and he's concerned about his players on and off the court."
Penders, the all-time winningest coach at Texas with a 208-110 record in 10 years, was forced to leave the school after he became embroiled in a controversy involving freshman swingman Luke Axtell, who has since transferred to Kansas. Penders suspended Axtell for academic violations and Axtell countered with allegations of verbal abuse.
The problems escalated when assistant coach Eddie Oran inadvertently violated state law by making Axtell's grades public to a radio station, a violation of the Buckley law.
In addition, three players went to Longhorns athletic director DeLoss Dodds with intentions to transfer, including Axtell and sophomores Anthony Goode and Gabe Muoneke.
Penders and the school agreed to a mutual buyout worth $643,000 when he resigned on April 2nd.
Penders coached Rhode Island for two seasons, leading the Rams to the NIT in 1987 and a stunning NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1988. He then moved on to Texas, where he led the Longhorns to eight NCAA Tournament showings, including a regional final appearance in 1990.
"When I took over at Texas the school had made no tournament appearances since Superman died," said Penders. "Eight of the 10 years we made the NCAA Tournament and averaged 21 wins. But I'm smart enough to know I didn't do anything. My players were the reason for the success."
Penders has coached at the collegiate level for 27 seasons and owns a career record of 478-319. His coaching resume includes stints at Tufts, Columbia and Fordham.
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