Georgia Tech fires Paul Hewitt, seeks coach to halt its decline

The price of Paul Hewitt's $7.2 million buyout apparently was not enough to deter Georgia Tech from cutting him loose and starting fresh.

Only two days after the Yellowjackets lost their first-round ACC tournament game against Virginia Tech to conclude a woeful 13-18 season, Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich fired Hewitt on Saturday morning. A national search for Hewitt's replacement would begin immediately.

It comes as no surprise that Georgia Tech would fire Hewitt considering how far the program has sunk since he led the Yellowjackets to their lone appearance in the national title game in 2004. Not only has Georgia Tech now missed the NCAA tournament in four of the past six seasons, attendance has also dwindled and the atmosphere surrounding the program has become somewhat caustic.

In Feb. 2010, Hewitt sent out a bizarre series of tweets challenging the fan base to remain loyal even as the underachieving Yellowjackets struggled to reach the NCAA tournament. "Are you a critic or a supporter of this team?" he wrote. "Supporters will continue to watch this team fight."

It's premature to speculate on who Georgia Tech may target as a replacement, but Radakovich could take aim at an up-and-coming mid-major coach the way Clemson did last offseason with Brad Brownell or it could seek a splashier, more expensive hire.

With a strong basketball pedigree and a $45 million arena set to open in 2012, Georgia Tech appears to be one of the more attractive vacant jobs in college basketball. It's now up to the Yellowjackets to find a coach capable of tapping into that promise.

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