June 28, 2004 ATLANTA This should put an end to all of those Paul Hewitt-to-blank rumors, at least for a year or two. Hewitt, whose name was mentioned with seemingly every prominent head coaching position around college basketball (and some in the NBA) last season, probably will be with the Yellow Jackets for a while, after recently finalizing a new six-year, $7.1 million contract.
The deal, which originally was agreed to during the week of the Final Four but wasn't completed until early June, includes several clauses relating to improvements to the program and interestingly no buyout if Hewitt decides to leave for the NBA.
Hewitt made $675,000 in cash compensation last season, plus close to $100,000 in performance bonuses, thanks to the Yellow Jackets' thrilling run in the NCAA Tournament.
Under the terms of the new contract, a copy of which recently was obtained by the ACC Sports Journal, Hewitt's minimum compensation will be $1 million in 2004-05, $1.075 million in 2005-06, $1.15 million in 2006-07, $1.225 million in 2007-08, $1.3 million in 2008-09 and $1.375 million in 2009-10. Those cash totals will come from the Georgia Tech Athletic Association's contribution (base salary), appearance-related compensation paid by the Alexander-Tharpe Fund, radio deals and deferred compensation.
Hewitt's base salary, the part of the contract paid for by the GTAA, accounts for the rising value of the deal. The coach will be paid annual base salaries of $400,000 in 2004-05, $475,000 in 2005-06, $550,000 in 2006-07, $625,000 in 2007-08, $700,000 in 2008-09 and $775,000 in 2009-10.
Hewitt is obligated to make 20 appearances or speaking engagements for the Alexander-Tharpe Fund each year to assist in fund-raising and public relations. His appearance pay is $200,000 per year. International Sports Properties (ISP), the Yellow Jackets' broadcast rights-holder, will pay Hewitt $200,000 per year for his work on his coach's show. Hewitt also will receive $150,000 in deferred compensation each year.
In addition, the new deal includes 13 performance bonuses that are related to possible achievements on the court. The bonuses are as follows:
- the greater of $30,000 or 1/12th of his base salary for an ACC regular-season championship;
- the greater of $40,000 or 1/12th of his base salary for an ACC Tournament championship;
- $30,000 for an NCAA Tournament bid;
- $10,000 for each NCAA Tournament victory in the first or second round;
- $25,000 for each victory in the regional semifinal or regional final of the NCAA Tournament;
- $40,000 for a victory in the NCAA Tournament national semifinal;
- $80,000 for an NCAA Tournament title;
- $10,000 for a Postseason NIT bid;
- $5,000 for each victory in the Postseason NIT rounds before the semifinals;
- $7,500 for a victory in the Postseason NIT semifinals;
- $10,000 for a Postseason NIT title;
- $20,000 for an ACC coach of the year award;
- $25,000 for a national coach of the year award.
Interestingly, the contract does not include bonuses for specified graduation rates. Hewitt previously has stated on many occasions that he doesn't believe he should be paid extra for that because it is a fundamental requirement of his job.
It could be argued that it also is part of his job not to be in the Postseason NIT, but he will be compensated in addition to his extremely high salary many coaches have similar compensation packages, but most are not so salary-heavy even if the Yellow Jackets make it to the Postseason NIT.
The contract raises Hewitt into the upper echelon of ACC basketball coaches in terms of annual school-related compensation, trailing only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (estimated at more than $1.7 million), North Carolina's Roy Williams ($1.6 million) and Maryland's Gary Williams (more than $1.2 million). Those are the only other three coaches in the conference who have led a team (or teams) to the Final Four, and of course Krzyzewski (three) and Gary Williams (one) have directed their current programs to one or more national championships. Though Hewitt took the Yellow Jackets to the Final Four last season and appears stocked for 2004-05, those coaches do have a longer track record of success.
However, with schools such as St. John's (which tried very hard and repeatedly) and Georgetown this year and likely many others in years to come inquiring about Hewitt as a primary candidate, it makes sense for the school to lock up the young coach.
Hewitt, who turned 41 in May, has just about everything a program would want in a head coach. He's young, well-spoken, personable, good-looking, grounded, media-friendly, a very good recruiter, a solid game planner, an advocate for student-athletes, and a terrific spokesman for the program and the university.
Tech's coach also is shrewd when it comes to making a deal. Aware that it takes more than money to keep a program on the rise, Hewitt got several key program-building conditions negotiated into his new contract.
Hewitt, who has long stressed the importance of not missing class time, got
written into his contract a guarantee that his team will fly charter planes
to and from weekday games. These flights generally allow teams to create their
own travel schedule, get back in time for class and avoid
the many hassles and complications of flying commercially.
The school also agreed to begin construction on a new practice facility, a project that already is taking shape. The new deal also calls for upgrades in the team's video equipment, as well as laptop computers for several staff members and enhanced technology capabilities in the basketball offices. Hewitt and his staff are dedicated to taping every game they possibly can for scouting purposes. As technology becomes more and more important in terms of recruiting, scouting and communicating, it only makes sense to treat those areas just as coaches would a practice gym.
The contract also includes raises for Tech's assistant coaches. The total budget with which Hewitt has to pay his assistants is now equal to what N.C. State has to pay its aides. When contract negotiations began before the Yellow Jackets' run to the Final Four Hewitt concluded that Tech's recent level of success most compared with N.C. State. As such, he asked for his assistants to be paid on par with the Wolfpack's assistants.
The money and program improvements make it unlikely that Hewitt, who has stated on several occasions that he would not leave Tech until his youngest daughter, a first-grader, graduates from high school, will look to leave Atlanta any time soon.
However, under the terms of his new deal, Hewitt can leave without penalty to accept a job in the NBA. At the same time, if he were to leave for another college job, it would be extremely costly, especially over the next few years. He'd owe one-half of the minimum compensation due for the remainder of the contract. An example: If Hewitt decided to leave Tech for another college program at the end of the 2004-05 season, he would owe the university more than $3 million. That number, of course, will decrease with each passing season, barring a revision of the deal.
Braine Clause Helps Both Parties
The portion of the contract that has drawn the most attention is the clause that would allow Hewitt to leave Tech without penalty within a two-year window of the (strictly hypothetical at this point) departure of athletic director Dave Braine.
Braine, a veteran administrator whose hiring ability rarely has been questioned, has endured a rocky road at times with Tech supporters, many of whom would like to see him hit the road sooner than his planned retirement around 2007.
Of course, Braine earns unquestioned high marks for hiring Hewitt from Siena in 2000. A relative unknown at the time, Hewitt has become one of the hottest young coaches in college basketball. Hewitt is immensely loyal to Braine for a number of reasons. First, Braine took a chance on him and, second, the Tech AD stuck with him during a few less than stellar seasons.
Braine's popularity will never match that of Hewitt, who is routinely cheered when he shows up at various Tech sporting events, including standing ovations at Yellow Jackets' baseball games. But by marrying themselves to each other so closely, it's certainly possible that Hewitt's position can enhance Braine's.
Hewitt said he was merely looking for some security, that he thinks he would be able to work with any new athletic director at Tech, but the Braine clause is an important piece of the puzzle in the increasingly volatile world of college coaching. As long as Braine is around, Hewitt knows where he stands.
Now, if Braine leaves, Hewitt has some important protection, an insurance policy of sorts. By hitching his wagon to Hewitt, of course, Braine has one, too.
Aiming For Large Hoops Class
Tech recently received a commitment from 6-9 Alade Aminu, an athletic in-state power forward, for the 2005-06 season. He's ranked among the top 100 rising seniors in the nation.
Aminu impressed the Tech staff with his athleticism and strong academic credentials, and the Yellow Jackets felt secure in offering him a scholarship very early despite his relative lack of name recognition. The feeling was that Aminu would attract a lot more interest during the summer camp tour and, rather than battle several suitors for his services, it would be better to have him in the fold early.
Aminu seems to fit the Yellow Jackets' system perfectly, and Hewitt's coaching staff has shown an ability to mold quality big men.
This is an extremely important recruiting year for Tech, which will have at least six scholarships available for members of the rising senior class. The Yellow Jackets will lose five key seniors point guard Will Bynum, wing guard B.J Elder, wing forward Isma'il Muhammad, swingman Anthony McHenry and center Luke Schenscher after the upcoming season, and junior point guard Jarrett Jack could opt for the NBA.
That means Hewitt will have to re-stock the talent shelves in a hurry, if he wants to be able to justify that lucrative new deal over the next several seasons. Among the coach's top remaining targets entering the July evaluation period are Texas swingman C.J. Miles, California combination forward Jamal Boykin, Wisconsin guard Wes Matthews (son of the former NBA player of the same name), Texas power forward Kevin Rogers, Georgia power forward Korvotney Barber and Georgia combo forward Octavious Spann.