Paul Hewitt has withdrawn from consideration to be St. John’s next basketball coach.
Hewitt is out of town on a recruiting trip and has not returned a message left on his cell phone at 10:33 a.m.
“My family and I have developed deep ties to Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta,” Hewitt said in a statement released by Georgia Tech. “I strongly believe in what Georgia Tech can do for young people, and I am committed to returning the Tech basketball program to the level of success our fans have come to expect. We took a step in that direction this past season, and I fully intend to continue on that path.”
He is scheduled to meet with the media at 9:30 p.m. tonight.
“I think what has transpired over the last few days speaks volumes about Paul Hewitt and about Georgia Tech,” Tech athletics director Dan Radakovich said in a statement. “Paul’s credentials as a human being, a family man, a leader and a builder of character are impeccable. All of us at Georgia Tech are committed to assist him in providing an outstanding men’s basketball program.”
Hewitt is from the New York City area and is known as an outstanding recruiter. The Red Storm hoped that he could tap into the high school talent in the five boroughs that St. John’s in recent years hasn’t been able to keep from leaving to programs such as Connecticut and Cincinnati.
However, Hewitt has repeatedly said that he and his family are happy in Atlanta and that he was not looking to leave. His parents and younger brother recently moved to Atlanta. In addition, Tech opened a new practice facility last year, and is reviewing plans for a renovation of Alexander Memorial Coliseum that will cost at least $45 million.
“I would say it’s highly unlikely I’d go anywhere,” Hewitt said Tuesday afternoon.
He has been criticized by fans and boosters for not being able to lead Tech to better than a seventh-place finish in the ACC this season, despite having two potential NBA lottery picks on the roster in Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors. The Jackets advanced to the finals of the ACC tournament before being eliminated in the second round of the NCAA tournament by Ohio State. The finished the year 23-13, 7-9 in the ACC.
Hewitt is 177-144 at Tech, including 67-93 in the ACC in 10 seasons as the Jackets’ coach. He has led the Jackets to the NCAA tournament five times.
The Red Storm fired coach Norm Roberts last week after six seasons. They reportedly offered the job to Florida’s Billy Donovan last week, but were rebuffed.
Colleague Mark Bradley wants to know how Tech fans feel about the news: