Saturday, March 12, 2011

Georgia Tech Fires Paul Hewitt

The mounting losses and declining attendance finally caught up with Paul Hewitt.

Saturday the Yellow Jackets answered the long-running question about the coach’s future when they fired him only two days after another disappointing season.

Hewitt, who took the Yellow Jackets to the national championship game in 2004, muddled through his fourth losing season in the last six years.

“At the end of the day we just didn’t win enough games,” Hewitt told The Associated Press on Saturday. “It’s part of the business.”

In the end, the financial impact of a half-filled arena for Georgia Tech’s home games overwhelmed the $7.2 million buyout Hewitt will be paid over five years.

Athletic director Dan Radakovich said at a press conference Saturday that he hopes to hire a coach before the Final Four, which begins on April 2 in Houston.

Hewitt was not bitter about being let go, which was not unexpected.

“I had 11 years there,” Hewitt said. “I’ve got nothing but appreciation for how they dealt with me in my 11 years. It’s a great place and I know they’re going to get a great coach.”

When asked his plans, Hewitt, 47, said “I don’t know. For better or for worse, a lot of family time.”
The Final Four season was the only year Hewitt managed a winning record in the ACC.

As the losing seasons piled up, attendance dipped dramatically at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The 13-18 
Yellow Jackets failed to sell out any games this season at the 9,100-seat arena.

The Yellow Jackets’ were 11th in the ACC this season at 5-11. Their season ended with Thursday night’s first-round loss to Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Hewitt’s overall record in 11 years was 190-162, including a poor conference record of 72-104.

Hewitt led Georgia Tech to five NCAA tournament appearances. The highlight came in 2004, when the Yellow Jackets lost to Connecticut in the championship game.

Georgia Tech had made the NCAAs only once in the last four seasons, a one-and-done appearance in 2010 with a team that included future NBA players Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal.

Two starters returned from last year’s NCAA tournament team. But Georgia Tech lost sophomore forward Brian Oliver with a broken thumb, and freshman Kammeon Holsey was limited as he recovered from knee surgery.

After the Final Four season, former athletic director Dave Braine signed Hewitt to a six-year contract at about $1.3 million per year that includes an automatic rollover clause.

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