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LU hoops at a crossroads

As the eyes of the college basketball world focus squarely on this weekend’s Final Four in Houston, it’s time for a careful inspection closer to home.

The Longwood University men’s basketball program is floundering under third-year head coach Jayson Gee. Off the court, player arrests and suspensions have cast a shadow over a great university that is otherwise basking in the success of record enrollment growth and fundraising and of being chosen to host the nation’s only vice presidential debate this fall. On the court, the Lancers stumbled to a 10-23 record this season, showing no improvement over records of 8-24 and 11-23 in Gee’s first two seasons.

That’s a three-year record of 29-70, compared with a 30-65 mark in the three seasons prior to Gee’s arrival. In short, Gee has failed to move the program forward, which presumably he was hired to do.

Longwood made a bold decision a decade ago to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I, the big leagues of intercollegiate sports. Absent a football team, Longwood pinned its hopes for athletic success on men’s basketball, the only major revenue-producing sport in which the Lancers compete. If Division I participation is to prove viable over the long haul, Longwood must be successful on the hardwood.

Success is measured two ways, in our view: by recruiting student-athletes who succeed in the classroom and represent Longwood well in the community, and by winning games, which leads to competing for conference championships and, ultimately, earning an invitation to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

By either measure, Gee is flunking. It’s time for Longwood to hold him accountable.