"The fall of 1906 was the beginning of something special at Georgetown. The University's director of physical education, Maurice Joyce introduced the game of basketball to students in the newly constructed Ryan Gymnasium. Seventy-two years later, another special something was added to the mix. Alumni and fans of Georgetown basketball were introduced to the newly formed Hoya Hoop Club.
To be truthful, the Club did not simply arrive fully grown. Hoyas Unlimited, the fund raising and support group for all Georgetown sports had established a "Committee on Basketball" in 1976 and devoted virtually all its resources over the following two years to increasing the community of interest surrounding the men's program on the Hilltop.
The investment paid off. Staffed by Brian McGuire (C'72) of the Athletic Department and supported by a strong group of alumni volunteers, the Committee met regularly for two years with then athletic director Frank Rienzo and head coach John Thompson, Jr., to discuss the needs of the rapidly improving program and to ascertain how their committee could be helpful.
One member of the committee, Dr. Anthony Fernicola (C'42, M'45), was quoted in the 1982 Hoyas game day program as saying, "after meeting with Coach Thompson, a group of us decided that the basketball team needed the kind of support, financial and otherwise, that was on level with where the basketball program was headed."
The "Committee" sponsored the first men's basketball banquet in the spring of 1977. They soon realized that an expanded organization would be needed to supplement the growing university expenses associated with a building a championship-caliber basketball program. The group subsequently developed the concept and mission statement of the Hoya Hoop Club. Simply stated, the Hoya Hoop Club was and is a support and advocacy group of loyal alumni and friends of Georgetown with a particular interest in advancing the men's basketball team.
By the fall of 1978, the Hoya Hoop Club was standing on its own two feet -- and just in time too. The Hoyas were undergoing their own transformation. With a line-up led by John Duren, Craig "Big Sky" Shelton and freshman sensation Eric "Sleepy" Floyd, Georgetown surprised a heavily-favored Syracuse team with a 66-58 win at Cole Field House to capture the 1979 ECAC tournament.
This ECAC victory secured the Hoyas a spot in the NCAA tournament for just the fourth time in school history. More significantly, it was first of 14 consecutive trips to the "Big Dance." Further evidence of prescient timing by the Hoop Club that year came in the post-season, with the featured Magic Johnson-Larry Bird match-up, as the NCAA tournament that year joined the World Series and the Super Bowl as the nation's most watched sports spectacles.
The Hoya Hoop Club was not the first support club for a specific sport at Georgetown. Both the Gridiron and Spiked Shoe Clubs were already established prior to the Hoop Club. The Hoop Club, however, quickly grew to be the largest support organization at Georgetown, both in number of members and total dollars raised (annually and all-time). In 1979, its first year of alumni outreach, the club consisted of 77 members with over $5,000 raised. By 1983, the Hoop Club had over 1,000 current members and had raised over $100,000 for the year. In the ensuing decades, more than 4,000 individuals have given to the men's basketball program through the Hoya Hoop Club with total contributions exceeding $10 million."
For more information, visit the Hoyas Unlimited page at http://www.guhoyas.com.