Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich said there’s “no question” that new men’s basketball coach Brian Gregory will succeed.
“Brian Gregory is not only an outstanding basketball coach, but he is a tireless worker and recruiter who cares deeply about his players,”
Radakovich said in a statement. “There is no question that he will succeed as basketball coach at Georgia Tech, and he will win by doing things the right way.”
Tech released a statement at 3:42 p.m. to confirm the hiring, which has dominated the Atlanta news throughout the day. A press conference is scheduled at 5 p.m.
Gregory said leaving Dayton for The Flats was a tough decision.
“It’s the toughest decision I’ve ever made in my life,” he told the Dayton Daily News. “It’s been eight great years. I love this place. People have been great to us. I can’t express how much I appreciate all the support and all the great times we had.
“We’ve built up a lot of relationships. As my wife (Yvette) said, it’s not a job or an occupation. It’s our life. It’s been our basketball life for eight years, and it’s tough to say good-bye to that.”
Gregory’s contract terms haven’t been announced. His pay package was at Dayton was near $1 million annually. Paul Hewitt, Tech’s former coach, made approximately $1.3 million annually. He’s also due $7.2 million per the buyout terms of the contract. That total will be paid out monthly over the next five years.
Gregory, 44 and a native of Mount Prospect, Ill., had coached the Flyers since 2003, amassing a record of 172-94 overall and 70-58 in the Atlantic 10 conference. He led the Flyers to the NCAA tournament twice, once during his inaugural season in 2003-04 and again in 2008-09. Dayton won the NIT championship in 2010.
The Flyers have had three winning conference records, including marks of 12-4 (2004) and 11-5 (2009). They went 22-14, 7-9 this year, losing in the first round of the NIT. They have won at least 20 games each of the last four seasons. Before taking over in Dayton, Gregory served as an assistant coach to Tom Izzo at Michigan State from 1999-2003.
“I know what this guy can do,” Izzo told Wes Durham on 790AM this morning. “He can have discipline yet still be a player’s coach. The hours he is going to work, that’s the only area I can say for sure that he’s No. 1. No one can outwork him. At the end of the day that’s the most important thing. Do you work your way through the good times, the bad times, the in-between times? ”
Tech has been looking for a coach since Radakovich let go of Hewitt more than two weeks ago. Hewitt led the Jackets to a 190-162 record in 11 seasons. Tech did reach the 2004 national championship game as part of five NCAA tournament appearances. However, Tech didn’t win the ACC’s regular-season or tournament titles under Hewitt.
Eventually, attendance at Alexander Memorial Coliseum began to decline. Paid attendance dropped to a few more than 6,000 this season, its lowest figure in more than a decade. However, that many rarely attended games. Tech will likely play its home games at Philips Arena and Gwinnett Arena next season while the $45 million McCamish Pavilion is constructed. It will replace AMC.
Multiple websites reported on Friday that Tech had offered the job to Gregory. However, the school issued a statement later in the day saying that the search was still ongoing.
Tech was supposed to talk to Richmond’s Chris Mooney on Sunday, but he signed a 10-year contract extension to stay with the Spiders.
Gregory was one of five candidates interviewed. The others were Tulsa’s Doug Wojcik, Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin (who accepted the job at Tennessee on Sunday) and former alums Mark Price and Craig Neal, who is an assistant at New Mexico.
Gregory doesn’t have any previous ties to the ACC or the South. His coaching experience has been exclusively in the Midwest, starting as an assistant at Michigan State in 1990. He then moved to Toledo in 1996, Northwestern in 1997, and Michigan State again in 1999.
He played at Navy before transferring to Oakland.
In 15 years, he has coached 20 players who have made it to the NBA. He has a reputation for winning big games, going 12-5 against teams from the big-six basketball conferences in the last four years. They were also 7-11 against ranked teams during Gregory’s time as coach, including a win against Georgia Tech in 2009.
The team has done well in the classroom as well. Its Academic Progress Rate, a measurement used by the NCAA to ensure that students are moving toward graduation at an acceptable pace, has never fallen below 974 since the 2004-05 season. The NCAA considers 925 to be the minimum score before penalties are considered. He’s a perfect 23-for-23 on seniors graduating.
“The academic part of the school really fits the type of school I want to be associated with,” he said. “That’s really important. At Georgia Tech, you can recruit the highest quality player without compromising the important character components necessary for success. They have great tradition there. I’m excited about re-establishing that tradition and re-energizing the program — and getting the former players back, like we did here, and becoming engaged in the community, like we did here.”
– Doug Roberson, AJC