Ga. Tech chooses Dayton's Gregory for rebuilding

By Paul Newberry

Associated Press

Published: Monday, March 28 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

The Yellow Jackets sure had plenty of adversity. They went 13-18 this season and finished 11th in the ACC at 5-11 before losing to Virginia Tech 59-43 in the opening round of the conference tournament. Hewitt was fired two days later.

Making the rebuilding job more difficult for Gregory: Georgia Tech won't have a true home arena his first season. The school is building a new campus arena on the site of Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Until it opens in 2012, the Yellow Jackets will split home games between downtown Philips Arena and suburban Gwinnett Arena.

Gregory hopes to turn that into a positive.

"There's a great opportunity next year in terms of reaching out and maybe even getting to more fans," he said.

There was speculation the Yellow Jackets would pursue one of the coaches who made a splash in this year's NCAA tournament, such as Richmond's Chris Mooney or VCU's Shaka Smart.

But Mooney signed a 10-year contract extension with the Spiders on Sunday night after leading them to the round of 16. Smart's team is still alive in the NCAA tournament, reaching the Final Four for the first time.

So the job goes to Gregory, who served as an assistant at Michigan State during two Final Four appearances, including the 2000 national championship.

One of Gregory's top priorities will be re-energizing Georgia Tech's fan base.

As the losing seasons piled up, home attendance dipped dramatically. The Yellow Jackets failed to sell out any games this season at the 9,100-seat arena, averaging just 6,095 per contest.

Georgia Tech made five NCAA tournament appearances under Hewitt but managed only one winning season in the ACC — 9-7 during the Final Four year. His overall mark of 190-162 included a dismal 72-104 record in conference play.

The empty seats ended Hewitt's career, even though the lucrative contract he signed after the Final Four season gave him an automatic rollover and left the school with no choice but to pay the huge buyout.

Radakovich, whose predecessor negotiated the Hewitt contract, said there was no such rollover in Gregory's deal.

"You can look in there all you want," the AD quipped. "You won't find it."

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