Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Georgia Tech Basketball Attendance Still Lagging Despite Coaching Change

Brian Gregory was hired at Georgia Tech last March to turn around a program fallen on hard times in the waning years of the Paul Hewitt regime.

Hewitt was let go after last season in a costly move by the Yellow Jackets who are still paying him $70,000 per month for the next six years to NOT coach their program.

Last season, I chronicled how the falling attendance would force Athletic Director Dan Radakovich to remove Hewitt because the lost revenue due to displeasure with the program would nearly equal Hewitt's yearly salary (about $1.375 Million).

The attendance numbers Georgia Tech was reporting last season were far from the actual attendance numbers, but paid tickets equal revenue.

Based on the reported attendance, it was clear Tech fans were voicing their unhappiness with their wallets and that forced the school to act.

Yet even with Hewitt removed, fans are struggling to return in supporting the program.

While their home court is being renovated, the Jackets played their non-conference games about 35 minutes from campus at the Gwinnett Center and ACC games at Philips Arena (plus Alabama and Northwestern).

So far in Gregory's first season, the average attendance at home game is just 4,655 almost 25% less than the home attendance last season with Hewitt on the sidelines.

Money is the lifeblood of every college athletics department and even with gigantic new TV contracts, ticket sales are the biggest driver of department revenue.

The differences between Gregory and Hewitt are evident in the first season even if the record is not. The former Dayton head coach is recruiting the Atlanta area heavily keeping two of the top four prospects home in Robert Carter and Marcus Hunt and adding another potential all-state player Chris Bolden and Kentucky transfer Stacey Poole. Gregory is not deflecting blame towards the media or any outside influences either like his predecessor did at times.

Despite having their desire for change granted, Georgia Tech fans are waiting for results before throwing support back into the basketball program.

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