CBKB: Hewitt reportedly turns down St. John's
AP Basketball Writer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — St. John's won't get its first choice for a new basketball coach.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt confirmed Thursday he has turned down an offer from St. John's.
"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."
When Norm Roberts was fired last week after six seasons at St. John's, athletic director Chris Monasch said he wanted to hire "someone who has a record of success of getting into the NCAA tournament." St. John's hasn't been to the NCAAs since 2002.
Georgia Tech gave St. John's permission this week to interview Hewitt, a New Yorker who has been at the Atlanta school for 10 seasons. He took the Yellow Jackets to five NCAA tournaments, including the 2004 Final Four.
"I think what has transpired over the last few days speaks volumes about Paul Hewitt and about Georgia Tech," athletic director Dan Radakovich said. "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."
Monasch has not mentioned any other candidates for the job.
Georgia Tech (23-13) advanced to the championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and earned its first NCAA tournament victory since 2005 before falling to Ohio State in the second round.
The postseason wins followed a disappointing finish to the regular season that left Hewitt's job in doubt. St. John's was clearly interested.
Hewitt, 46, insisted last week he was not interested in moving.
"If they tell me they don't want me here anymore, that's fine, but my family likes it here. I like it here," he said.
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.
Monasch said St. John's is ready to offer a salary that could place the new coach among the highest paid in the country.
"Depending on who the coach is we will make the financial commitment and a length of time that is appropriate," he said last week.
Monasch was unavailable for comment.