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Patrick Nero

Athletic director Patrick Nero enjoys the watch party for the Women's NCAA Tournament selection show in March. Nero has said that building an active donor base for sports at GW will be critical for continued growth in athletics. Hatchet File Photo.

Athletic director Patrick Nero enjoys the watch party for the Women’s NCAA Tournament selection show in March. Nero has said that building an active donor base for sports at GW will be critical for continued growth in athletics. Hatchet File Photo.

The athletic department saw an 11.4 percent increase in donations over the past fiscal year, the department announced Wednesday.

The Buff and Blue Fund, which supports athletics in general at GW, received support from over 1,500 donors for the first time since its creation in 2012. Total donations increased by 171 percent over the past year.

“We take pride in being a part of our student-athletes’ journeys to achieve at the highest levels in their chosen sport and in their studies, and we recognize that Buff and Blue Fund donors are the driving force behind our success in helping them to fulfill their dreams,” athletic director Patrick Nero said in a release.

A handful of major donors helped bolster the funds success. Trustee Ave Tucker dedicated $1 million of a $2 million gift to the athletic department, and the Board of Trustees in turn voted to name the baseball field after him. Alumnus Gil Cisneros helped spur the Buff and Blue Fund Challenge which took place from early January through early April, donating $10,000 for every 100 gifts made during that period.

Philanthropy has been tabbed as a critical source of revenue for the athletic department to continue to grow, as it has, despite plateauing levels of support from the University.

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Could Georgetown-GW happen at long last?

Well, maybe. The D.C. Council will host a roundtable Thursday to discuss whether the group should support the creation of a “Big 6″ college basketball tournament in the District featuring GW, Georgetown, American, Maryland, George Mason and Howard.

The roundtable will be held at 2:45 p.m. and discuss the legislation proposed by Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, who represents Foggy Bottom.

His proposal cited the existence of a similar style event in Philadelphia and the possibility of restructuring the BB&T Classic to pit local schools against each other, which would likely increase attendance and excitement around the event. Both GW and Georgetown competed in the BB&T Classic last season, but did not play each other.

The Colonials already play Atlantic 10 foe George Mason regularly, but have not suited up against the Hoyas since 1982. Athletic director Patrick Nero and men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan have expressed interest in scheduling a game against Georgetown.

Evans’ bill, if adopted, would ask Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office to form a “D.C. Big 6 Working Group” within 30 days to explore the creation of the event.

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Freshman Yuta Watanabe and junior Kevin Larsen on a visit to the White House to watch the arrival ceremony for Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. Watanabe was invited as a sports ambassador between the U.S. and Japan. Hatchet File Photo

Freshman Yuta Watanabe and junior Kevin Larsen on a visit to the White House to watch the arrival ceremony for Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. Watanabe was invited as a sports ambassador between the U.S. and Japan. Hatchet File Photo

The men’s basketball team is planning a trip to Japan sometime during the 2016 summer, athletic director Patrick Nero told The Japan Times on Monday.

Nero is currently in Japan with men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan to explore potential exhibition game opponents for the squad, which last toured internationally in 2012 when the team went to Italy.

The Colonials are allowed one foreign trip every four years according to NCAA regulations. The trip would give Japanese star Yuta Watanabe, who will finish his sophomore year before next summer, a chance to play with GW in front of fans at home. Watanabe is from Kagawa, Japan.

Nero told The Japan Times that sports business students could also join the team on the trip and would use it as an educational opportunity to study sports administration and get a taste of Japanese culture.

The details of the tour have yet to be ironed out, but Nero said it would likely take place in August but could also happen in June. The destinations would likely be Tokyo and Okinawa, with stops for games, cultural sites and volunteer work. The men’s team held a basketball clinic for children when it toured Italy, and the women’s basketball team did the same on a tour of England and France last summer.

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Professor Pato helps co-host Brian Mojica learn spanish at the fourth annual Georgey Awards. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor.

Professor Pato helps co-hose Brian Mojica learn spanish at the fourth annual Georgey Awards. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Alex Kist.

GW athletes shed their uniforms for suits and dresses Thursday night at the fourth annual Georgey Awards in Lisner Auditorium.

The ceremony celebrated the year in GW sports and athletes, teams and coaches received awards for their achievements in athletics, academics and community service.

Throughout the night, many athletes were recognized for their performances this season. To kick things off, baseball’s Robbie Metz was awarded the male Rookie of the Year award and gymnast Cami Drouin-Allaire was named female Rookie of the Year.

The athletic department also celebrated accomplishments off the field, as senior John Kopriva earned the men’s Red Auerbach Award, given to the student athlete who best embodies balancing success in sports, school, leadership and community service.

“First Georgey, so that’s special,” Kopriva said. “All-around award, it’s something that I pride myself in, being more than just basketball, more than just books, more than just community, I try to be part of it all.”

Softball’s Maura Murphy and men’s soccer’s Luke Farrell received awards for Best Female and Male Athlete in a Supporting Role, respectively. The Dan Black Award was awarded to Jacqui Stevens, who recovered from a pair of ACL tears, and Craig LeJeune, who had Tommy John surgery last year, took the male award in the respective category.

Athletes Carlee Gray, Patricio Garino, Chidima Osuchukwu and Brian Mojica as the hosts of the night also added some comedic relief, as Gray and Mojica entered a lip sync battle, ending with Mojica serenading the audience with Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”.

Gymnastics head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham won the Distinguished Service Award after giving 30 years of service to the her GW team. Men’s rowing’s Marc Hisarli and sailing’s Gabriella Malek won the Raise High Our Community Award for community service, and the gymnastics team took home the Raise High Our Community Team award.

In the closing moments of the night, Joe McDonald took home Moment of the Year after his game winning put back in overtime to beat Dayton, and Gymnastics and Women’s Basketball shared Co-Team of the Year Award after stellar seasons. Tennis senior Fransico Dias took home Male Player of the Year and women’s basketball junior Jonquel Jones received Female Player of the Year.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Dias said. “I got one my freshman year as the Rookie of the Year and now I get one my senior year as Male Performer, and I couldn’t have done it without all the help from our athletic department, the leadership from Patrick Nero, the academic support, but mostly to the chemistry that I have with my teammates.”

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Freshman Yuta Watanabe and junior Kevin Larsen visited the White House on Tuesday. Watanabe was invited as a sports ambassador between the U.S. and Japan. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor.

Freshman Yuta Watanabe and junior Kevin Larsen visited the White House on Tuesday. Watanabe was invited as a sports ambassador between the U.S. and Japan. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor.

While the Smith Center added a Japanese flag to its collection months ago, hundreds of flags have been popping up along the streets surrounding the White House in preparation for the official visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, which began Tuesday.

Men’s basketball freshman Yuta Watanabe was invited to the official arrival ceremony on the White House South Lawn Tuesday morning, along with teammate Kevin Larsen, head coach Mike Lonergan and athletic director Patrick Nero. Watanabe also attended a lunch at the State Department Tuesday afternoon.

“It was a special experience,” Watanabe said. “Not every person can go inside so that was good for me.”

At the welcoming ceremony, President Barack Obama thanked the visiting prime minister for all that Japan has given the American people, emojis and karaoke included, and said he was excited to discuss the strengthening of the relationship between the two countries.

“This visit is a celebration of the tides of friendship and family that bind our peoples,” Obama said.

Abe also delivered a speech, and Watanabe, who is from Kagawa, Japan and is the fourth-ever Japanese native to play Division I basketball, looked on with the throng of spectators gathered on the sunny morning.

Watanabe and Larsen took a moment following the ceremony to snap some selfies, including one where Larsen tried to plant a kiss on Watanabe’s cheek.

“He didn’t, but he tried,” Watanabe said.

Watanabe said the lunch, which was hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, was the highlight of his day. He said he enjoyed his meal of fish and salad and got the chance to talk to other Japanese citizens.

Lonergan said that his favorite part of the day was getting to spend the beautiful morning outside, and to see Watanabe and Larsen excited along with the other spectators. After the ceremony, he chuckled that the team will have to win an NCAA Tournament so that they can go back to the White House.

“To see people from Japan and to see how excited they were in line to see their prime minister on American soil,” Lonergan said, “To see the joy in everyone’s faces, especially with what’s going on in Baltimore now, I think this is a great country but it’s good to see some happy faces instead of seeing some bad things on the news.”

President Obama, Michele Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe wave goodbye to a crowd, before entering the White House. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor.

President Obama, Michele Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe wave goodbye to a crowd before entering the White House. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor.

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Athletic director Patrick Nero has named James Winchester the new head coach for the swimming and diving program, the athletic department announced Thursday.

The two-time NCAA assistant coach of the year honorable mention recipient will take the helm of the program that announced the departure of former coach Dan Rhinehart in early March. After announcing that Rhinehart would not return to the program, the athletic department kicked off a national search for his replacement.

“I am truly excited by this opportunity,” Winchester said in a release. “I believe the vision and commitment to excellence here at GW carries across all aspects of the university, and am excited about the tremendous potential of our program. I look forward to developing championship teams that will represent GW at the highest levels in the classroom, the pool, and in the community.”

Winchester has spent 11 years as a swimming coach, including time as an assistant for Drury University’s NCAA Division II National Championship women’s team in 2007 and D-II Champion men’s teams in 2007 and 2008. He was also head of recruiting as well as the Stroke and I.M. coach at the University of Utah and a coach at the University of New Orleans. Winchester has coached more than 40 All-Americans, nine National Champions and five World Top 100 swimmers. He has also recruited two Top 25 recruiting classes as a coach.

“James’ proven track record of coaching, mentoring and developing some of the world’s best swimmers made him an attractive candidate for this position, and we are excited to see what he will do with our student-athletes,” Nero said in a release.

Winchester will be tasked with rebuilding a men’s program that finished seventh out of eight teams and a women’s program that finished 11th out of 11 teams at the A-10 Championships this year.

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The first-ever Buff and Blue Fund Challenge brought in a total of $80,000 in gifts for the athletic department, according to a release Tuesday.

More than 300 students, parents, coaches and alumni made donations with more than $50,000 of that total coming from individual donors. The challenge ran from January 3 to March 30, and was extended when the gymnastics team won its first-ever East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championship.

Athletics Advisory Board member Gil Cisneros, who graduated in 1994, created the fund and donated $10,000 for every 100 donations made.

Cisneros said he hopes the donations “can be used to help take the athletic programs to the next level,” according to the release.

Athletic director Patrick Nero thanked Cisneros in the release and said the fundraising blitz “saw significant success for the betterment of our student athletes.”

Several groups, including the executive officers of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, the volleyball and softball teams, and head coaches and athletics senior staff, had 100 percent participation in the challenge.

The donations are not restricted to any specific project so the athletics department can choose what to spend it on. In the past, gifts to the Buff and Blue Fund have gone towards locker room renovations, foreigntravel for teams and the creation and naming of the baseball team’s Tucker Field at Barcroft Park.

“In our efforts to field a broad-based athletic department that strives to see all of our teams compete at the top of their respective conferences and make noise at the national level, unrestricted gifts to the department allow for our needs to be met,” Nero said in the release.

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Director of Athletics Patrick Nero

Athletic Director Patrick Nero has signed a contract extension through the 2020-21 academic year according to an athletics department release. Hatchet File Photo.

Fourth-year Athletic Director Patrick Nero has signed a contract extension to remain at GW through the 2020-21 academic year, the athletic department announced Monday.

Nero, who replaced former athletic director Jack Kvancz in 2011, has seen GW sports through the first years of the five-year athletics strategic plan he and the athletic department released with the approval of the Board of Trustees in 2012. He has seen nine of GW’s 27 intercollegiate teams win championships in his time at GW.

“Without the University’s support, along with the tireless, hard work and dedication of our student athletes, coaches, administration and alumni, we would not have been able to pursue the many opportunities and achieved the successes that a multitude of our programs have seen,” Nero said in a release.

Nero has prioritized the academic success of student athletes and development in the athletic department. GW student-athletes have set all-time high marks in GPA and community service hours during Nero’s tenure and the Providence, R.I. native was the driving force behind establishing the Buff and Blue Fund.

Gifts to the fund, which is housed within the new Athletics Development unit, have supported facilities like the men’s and women’s basketball locker rooms and Tucker Field at Barcroft Park. Donors have also contributed to foreign travel for athletes, like the women’s basketball team’s trip to England and France last summer.

“Patrick’s strategic vision and his efforts to ‘build champions in the classroom, in competition and in the community’ have helped to push GW Athletics further, and our future with him at the helm of our athletics department is bright,” Provost Steven Lerman said in the release.

Nero graduated from Providence College in 1987 and served as the Commissioner of the America East Conference before signing on at GW. He is currently the Chair of the Atlantic 10 Council of Athletic Directors and serves on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Issues Committee.

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Men’s and women’s swimming head coach Dan Rhinehart will not return to the program next year, the athletic department announced Monday.

Rhinehart completed his 17th year of coaching both programs this season, as the men’s finished 7th in the 2015 Atlantic 10 Championships last month, while the women’s team placed 11th.

“We want to thank Dan for his service to GW Athletics since 1995 when he first came to GW as an assistant coach on our swimming teams,” Athletic Director Patrick Nero said in a release. “…Dan guided some outstanding student-athletes, and we wish him the best as we look forward to the future for GW swimming and diving.”

In the 16 previous seasons that Rhinehart led the program, the Colonials established 81 school records and 14 A-10 records. He has also coached 74 A-10 champions, eight conference Swimmers of the Year and three student-athletes who competed in the NCAA Championships, while also nabbing the Co-Atlantic 10 Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year award in 2011.

According to the release, the athletic department will undergo a national search for a new head coach.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartnichak.

After 16 seasons at GW, men’s and women’s head water polo coach Scott Reed will not return to the program, the athletics department announced Monday.

The announcement comes after the men finished their season with an overall record of 13-15 and an eighth-place finish at the CWPA Championships. The women’s season begins next semester.

Assistant coach Adam Foley will serve as interim head coach for both teams.

“We want to thank Scott for his service to GW Athletics since 1999 when he first helmed our men’s water polo program,” Athletic director Patrick Nero said in a release. “We wish him the best as we look forward to the future for GW water polo.”

Reed coached the men’s team for 16 seasons and the women’s team for 15 seasons. He posted a 167-280 record with the men’s team and a 173-240 record with the women’s for an overall 340-520 record.

Foley joined GW this past August after one year as an assistant at Johns Hopkins. He was previously the head coach of the MIT men’s team, which won the CWPA Division III Eastern Championship under his leadership in 2007 and 2010.

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