Paul Hewitt, who got his start as a college head coach at Siena (1997-98 through 1999-2000), was fired Saturday morning by Georgia Tech.
There won't be many tears for Hewitt, who lasted 11 years at a school where academics limits the recruiting pool and makes winning difficult. In fact Hewitt's winning percentage was pretty similar to his predecessor, Bobby Cremins, who was also fired for not winning enough.
Hewitt did bring the program to a national championship game early in his tenure there, the furthest advancement ever in Georgia Tech's history. But, in today's world of big-time college basketball, the misplaced sentiment is "What have you done for us lately?"
Hewitt has five years remaining on his contract that the school must pay off whether he finds another job or not. That buyout is reportedly close to $7 million, so Hewitt won't be appearing on a soup line any time soon.
Unfortunately, a good man and a good coach ... the kind the sport needs more of ... is out of the profession. But, this hoopscribe's guess is that he won't be out of work for long.
He could probably name his next job if he wanted to return to the mid-major level (administrators at Manhattan should at least make a phone call to check on his interest). The greater likelihood is that another high-major program will bring Hewitt aboard in short order.
What kind of coach will it get?
This is how Hewitt operated at Siena, when this hoopscribe had a front-row seat to his method of operations:
If a player skipped a class, his entire team was up early the next morning to run several miles. He required players to sit near the front of classes, to dress and be groomed respectfully. His philosophy is that most of his players wouldn't continue playing professionally, so a big part of his job was to have them prepared for the real world beyond college and basketball. To Hewitt, preparing players for life after basketball was at least as important to what he did with them on the court.
He employed an up-tempo attack that was both enjoyable to watch and enjoyable for his team to play.
There might never have been a better representative of Siena, in terms of all the peripheral aspects of the job related to dealing with alums, with fans, with media and just those he came in contact with at the school on an everyday basis.
At Siena he defined class. And, by all accounts, his tenure at Georgia Tech was much of the same.
The problem at Georgia Tech is that he didn't win enough. He had a better-than-.500 record there, but his teams struggled in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference. And, attendance began to drop this season, no small matter for a program slated to move into a new arena for the 2012-13 season.
Hewitt won't be out of work long. And, the school that hires him will be very fortunate to have him as its basketball coach.