Ex-Ga Tech coach Hewitt takes job at George Mason

After losing a Final Four coach to the Atlantic Coast Conference, George Mason got one in return.

The Patriots on Saturday hired former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt to replace Jim Larranaga, who left this month for the University of Miami.

"Both are very good coaches," George Mason athletic director Tom O'Connor said. "We were glad to have Jim, and we're proud to have Paul."

Hewitt was fired by Georgia Tech last month. He took the Yellow Jackets to the Final Four in 2004, but that was the only season he had a winning record in ACC play. He went 190-162 over 11 years at the school and was 72-104 in the conference.

Georgia Tech went 13-18 this season and failed to sell out any games at its 9,100-seat arena.

Money was a major reason the Patriots lost Larranaga, who took George Mason to the Final Four in 2006 and is the winningest coach in school history. Hewitt, 47, is receiving a $7.2 million buyout over five years from Georgia Tech, which would seem to make him more affordable for a Colonial Athletic Association school like GMU.

"That was never a consideration we had," O'Connor said. "We felt like he was right person to have. He fit all the criteria we were looking for."

Hewitt arrived at Georgia Tech in 2000 after posting a 66-27 record in three seasons at Siena.

George Mason plans to introduce Hewitt at a news conference on Monday.

"Paul is an excellent teacher of basketball," O'Connor said. "He's a great communicator. He's done wonderful things in the community. We felt he was the total package."