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Hewitt's job status in question at Georgia Tech

POSTED: March 2, 2011 1:42 p.m.

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech is entering the last week of a disappointing regular season and it could be the end of coach Paul Hewitt's tenure on the bench.

The Yellow Jackets are 11-17 overall and 3-11 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. They've suffered eight straight ACC losses and are 0-10 on the road as they prepare to play at last-place Wake Forest in their final road game on Thursday night.

When asked Tuesday how he has held up during the stressful season, Hewitt said "It ain't easy, I'll tell you that much."

Associate athletic director Wayne Hogan said athletic director Dan Radakovich will review Hewitt's status following the season.

"Certainly we're all disappointed in the record as it stands," Hogan said. "I think as we get to the close of the season (Radakovich) will remain true to his philosophy and will sit down with coach Hewitt and discuss where we go from here. That won't occur before the end of the season."

Hogan said a sharp decline in home attendance is an important factor Radakovich will consider. Alexander Memorial Coliseum, which will be replaced after the season, has had thousands of empty seats for ACC games.

"It's clearly important that we energize the fan base," Hogan said. "No question we've seen a drop-off in attendance and revenue. Those sort of things are part of the overall picture. No matter where we go from here, clearly we all are understanding we need to re-energize our fans. That isn't lost on anybody here. We've had a lot of empty seats."

Hewitt's six-year contract at about $1.3 million per year has an automatic rollover clause. The contract includes buyout clauses for Hewitt and Georgia Tech.

The $7 million buyout of Hewitt's contract would be expensive for Georgia Tech, but empty seats also are a drain on the athletic department's budget.

Hewitt's status also was in doubt last year, when he finished 17-13 with the team's first NCAA tournament appearance in three years. He interviewed with St. John's after the season before announcing he would remain at Georgia Tech.

Hewitt has taken the Yellow Jackets to five NCAA tournaments in 11 seasons, including the 2004 Final Four. He is 188-161 overall and 70-104 in ACC games at Georgia Tech.

Freshman Jason Morris said Tuesday he is aware of questions about the coach's future.

"He's heavily criticized and there's all that negative energy out there and attention," Morris said before practice as he gazed at a wall of photos of former Georgia Tech players in the NBA. "But what he's done on a player development level is up there with the best of the best. You stand here and look at our players in the pros, and it's just as good as any team in the ACC."

Detractors say Hewitt should have won more games with such players as Anthony Morrow, Chris Bosh, Jarrett Jack, Derrick Favors and Thaddeus Young.

"If you step back, I guess at the end of the day you've got to win games, but it'd be really great to have him back here next year," Morris said. "It'd be different having a new coach come in and essentially have to start from scratch.

"In my opinion it would hurt the program more than it would help it."

Hewitt returned two starters from last year's NCAA tournament team. He has lost sophomore forward Brian Oliver for the last six games with a broken thumb. Freshman Kammeon Holsey has been limited as he continues his recovery from knee surgery last year.

"It's unfortunate. It's part of the scenario," Hewitt said. "You don't anticipate this but you also know in the back of your mind that if one or two guys get hurt or maybe somebody doesn't have the year you were anticipating them having, we knew the margin for error for this team was somewhat thin.

"It's one of those cases where what can go wrong, went wrong."

After Sunday's final home game against Miami, Alexander Memorial Coliseum will be almost totally rebuilt. Only the roof and support beams will remain. The team will play its home games at Philips Arena and the Gwinnett Arena next season before opening the new McCamish Pavilion in the 2012-13 season.

Hewitt smiled when asked if he's looking for a souvenir from the current facility.

"I've got to see if I can find one," he said. "I'll take a win right now."

 

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