Even without a job, Paul Hewitt probably could have handled the bills.
Regardless, the former Georgia Tech basketball coach, fired after 11 seasons in March, is back in the game. George Mason, a prominent mid-major team, confirmed his hiring Saturday. He will be introduced at a news conference Monday.
“Every coach wants to get back, even if they say they don’t,” said Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, a good friend of Hewitt’s and now a conference rival in the Colonial Athletic Association. “He needs to get back because that’s who he is, that’s what he does and he’s really good at it.”
Hewitt was out of a job for 49 days, barely enough time to start collecting on his $7.2 million buyout, a sum Tech is still required to pay out despite Hewitt’s new job. He replaces Jim Larranaga, who left George Mason to coach at Miami (Fla.). Hewitt will take over a team that went 27-7 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. Barring transfers, four starters will return next season. George Mason is best known for its 2006 run to the Final Four.
“We’ve got to keep guys like Paul Hewitt in the business,” said Hunter. “I’m really, really happy for him and I think it is a very, very good position for him. I look forward to going against him, to be honest with you.”
Hewitt joins a highly competitive conference. Hewitt will recruit in-state against CAA rival and Final Four participant VCU as well as NCAA tournament participant Old Dominion. The CAA was ranked 10th in conference RPI this past season.
Hewitt was fired following the Yellow Jackets’ 13-18 season. It was Tech’s third losing season in the past four years. Hewitt led the Jackets to five NCAA appearances, including a run to the championship game in 2004, but managed one winning season in the ACC. He was replaced by Brian Gregory from Dayton.