Mary Fenlon, mentor to Georgetown basketball, dies at 81

NCAA Men's Basketball

WASHINGTON (AP)Mary Fenlon, Georgetown’s longtime men’s basketball academic coordinator, has died She was 81.

She died Sunday in Henderson, Nevada, after a battle with cancer, the school said Monday.

Fenlon spent 27 years at Georgetown, where for many seasons she was a fixture on the bench during basketball games. Hall of Fame coach John Thompson felt it important to have some of her stature on the sideline. She also was an assistant on the U.S. team he coached at the 1988 Olympics.

One of just five non-players from the men’s basketball program inducted into Georgetown’s athletics hall of fame, Fenlon oversaw academics during an era where the Hoyas won the a national title, made three Final Four and 20 NCAA Tournament appearances and captured six Big East tournament titles. Fenlon worked under Thompson from 1972-1999.

Fenlon left a lasting imprint on current coach Patrick Ewing, who starred at Georgetown from 1981-1985.

”She was like a mother figure – even though we all had mothers – but she was our mother figure here on campus,” Ewing said. ”Because of her and the work ethic that she showed us, we were able to be successful after leaving here.”

Georgetown says 97% of men’s basketball players who stayed all four years graduated under Fenlon’s watch. When Thompson added her to his coaching staff at the 1988 Olympics, she became the first woman to serve in that capacity for USA Basketball. The team won a bronze medal in Seoul.

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