Lenn Robbins of the New York Post reports that St. John’s, which fired coach Norm Roberts last week, plans to pursue Paul Hewitt. This would not constitute a shock.
This wouldn’t be the first time St. John’s has targeted Hewitt. The Red Storm had an opening six years ago, but it coincided with Hewitt’s one extended NCAA tournament run. Worried that another school — or an NBA team — would steal the coach that had just led the Jackets to the title game, then-athletics director Dave Braine awarded Hewitt the perpetual rollover contract with its $7.1 million buyout. St. John’s hired Roberts instead.
Hewitt’s contract also includes a buyout on his end: Should he leave for another college job, he would be obliged to pay Tech $3.5 million. But there have been recent indications that Tech would not hold Hewitt to that figure.
Sources told the Post that [St. John's AD Chris] Monasch has gotten word to Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich that he’ll be seeking official permission to talk to coach Paul Hewitt as soon as possible …
“The word is it’s his job and Georgia Tech won’t stand in the way,” said a highly placed source in college basketball circles. “Both sides are ready for a change.”
After Georgia Tech lost to Ohio State in Milwaukee on Sunday, Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News asked Hewitt about the St. John’s job. Wrote Rubin:
When he was asked whether St. John’s can return to glory, the man lit up.
“Do you remember what it was like in New York when the Yankees finally won the World Series again in 1996, the way it electrified the city? St. John’s could definitely do the same thing,” said Hewitt, who grew up in Queens and Long Island. “I remember going to the building they call Carnesecca (Arena) and seeing huge crowds embrace the team. I remember going to the Garden and seeing it full. And I remember the winning. The right coach could do all that again and it would be a sight.”
This man doesn’t belong at a poker table. His words sound like “not interested,” but his face says “intrigued.”