PROVIDENCE — Ed Cooley accomplished a great deal during his 12 seasons as the men’s basketball coach at Providence College. Just look at where the program stands today as opposed to the train wreck he inherited when he took the job on March 22, 2011.

In terms of departures, Cooley offered up a master class on what not to do when plotting one’s exit strategy. Leaving out the back door immediately springs to mind, especially after learning that Cooley signed what in real estate speak is known as a single-family sales disclosure for his East Greenwich house on Friday, March 3 — one day before the Providence Friars were blown out on Senior Day at home against Seton Hall.

From leading the Friars to seven NCAA Tournament appearances along with a pair of Big East titles — one regular-season, one conference tournament — Cooley should be lauded for the success he achieved and the heights he reached at the school located in his hometown.

Instead, he’ll be remembered for the course of action he elected to take on his way out the door as he trades the Providence River for the Potomac River.

Should Friars fans feel betrayed that a man who proclaimed “Us, We, Family, Together, Friars” many times then elected to leave PC for a rival Big East school? Yes, you have every right, but as Athletic Director Steve Napolillo said last week, “At the end of the day, what makes America great is that it’s a place where people have to decide if they want to be here or they don’t.”

No question, the optics of becoming the first head coach in the long and storied history of the Big East to leave one conference school at the altar in favor of a job at a league rival look horrible. By the same token, Cooley has every right to move on to a school where the late John Thompson Jr. made a name for himself. That’s the beauty of America.

What comes across as unsavory is that Cooley appeared to have one eye on the Georgetown job while the current Friars season was taking place. Is it far fetched to declare that the 2022-23 season started unraveling in a major way after Cooley signed his name to single-family sales disclosure for 55 Lenihan Lane in East Greenwich?

There’s enough evidence to point in the affirmative to suggest that Cooley’s choice of actions regarding his house while there were still games on the docket — the same one that for many years was the scene for many poll jumps after the Friars landed a recruit — tore the Friars apart. Remember, this was a team that entered the final week of the Big East regular season with a shot at the No. 2 seed for the Big East Tournament.

Instead, everything fell apart and quickly — perhaps due to Cooley eying property in Chesapeake Bay.

One day after Cooley signed his name to the aforementioned single-family sales disclosure, PC sang the Senior Day blues after getting throttled by 24 points against Seton Hall. The next time out, the Friars sank into a 26-point hole against Connecticut at the Big East Tournament. The rally was exciting — PC closed to within five points on a few occasions down the stretch — yet the Huskies ultimately added to the Friars’ downward spiral.

The opening-round exit to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament proved to be the final salvo in a season-ending four-game losing streak during which distractions ultimately ruled the day — no matter what anyone says. Instead of loading up to make noise on the March Madness stage, the Friars were being led by a coach who essentially had one foot out the door. That’s a disservice to the players who placed their trust in Cooley and the college that bent over backward on multiple occasions during his coaching tenure in an effort to provide the necessary resources to compete at a high level.

Last Friday’s loss to Kentucky in Greensboro, N.C., wasn’t Ed Cooley’s last day on the job at Providence College. Turns out it was March 3, 2023 — a day when the wheels were officially set in motion for the next stop in his coaching journey and Cooley’s famous slogan of “Us, We, Together, Family, Friars” started to ring hollow.

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