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George Washington names Maurice Joseph interim head coach for 2016-17

He replaces Mike Lonergan, who was fired after five seasons.

NCAA Basketball: George Washington at DePaul Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

George Washington has elevated assistant coach Maurice Joseph to interim head coach, according to a release by the school.

“I am eager and well prepared to begin this journey with the 13 student-athletes in our locker room and the tight-knit group of coaches that I will rely upon heavily,” Joseph said in the release. “It is a distinct honor to have the opportunity to be a mentor to our team in this new role. I have the utmost confidence that I will validate the trust that Provost Maltzman and Patrick Nero have placed in me, and that we will deliver a product that makes our students, alumni and fans across the globe proud of GW Basketball and the university."

He replaces Mike Lonergan, who was fired on Sept. 17 following a school-commissioned independent investigation into alleged verbal abuse of players. The investigation stemmed from a Washington Post story in July that detailed verbal abuse accusations against Lonergan by former players.

Joseph has been an assistant at GW for five years, spanning Lonergan’s entire tenure. He played at Michigan State (2005-07) and Vermont (2008-10) before a brief professional career in Israel. Tom Izzo was quoted in the GW release:

“There’s not a doubt in my mind that he is incredibly well suited to lead the Colonials. I’ve loved watching him grow as a coach and I know his journey has positioned him for success. He understands how to tackle the adversity that comes with the coaching profession. Perhaps most importantly, he is great at building and maintaining relationships with players, administration, alumni and media. That’s why I’m looking forward to watching the next step in his bright young coaching career.”

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported last week that the school also interviewed assistants Hajj Turner and Carmen Maciariello before ultimately choosing Joseph. Turner, GW’s associate head coach the past five seasons, was considered by many to be the front-runner.

Joseph takes over a team that won the NIT last season and has an A-10 Player of the Year contender in senior forward Tyler Cavanaugh. The Colonials open against Maryland Eastern Shore on Nov. 11.