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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ben's Sports Take: Georgia Tech still an academic institution

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In a world where collegiate athletics have become the measuring stick by which a majority of universities judge their overall worth, it's always refreshing to see a school that still knows what it means to be an institution of higher learning.

With football and basketball coaches making five times as much money as university presidents and alumni donations being used to build new practice facilities instead of new classrooms, it's getting harder and harder to decipher which schools still employ faculties and which ones are simply NFL and NBA waiting rooms.

Schools like Georgia Tech however, are bucking this trend and doing its part to remind us all that college is a place where young minds are molded in the classroom—not on the playing field.

If this wasn't the case at the Georgia Institute of Technology, how else could you rationalize the continued employment of the school's head basketball coach Paul Hewitt?

Certainly if the higher-ups at Georgia Tech cared at all about improving their basketball program, their first course of action would be to terminate Hewitt of his duties immediately and hire someone who has a clue of how to run a basketball program.

But that would suggest that the university is concerned with the overall condition of its athletic department, which it apparently is not.

Since making the championship game of the 2004 NCAA Tournament, the Yellow Jackets have posted a regular season record of 104-92 and 36-60 in ACC play and have made it back to the tournament on just three occasions.

This year the Jackets are just 4-4 and have assumed the role of third-best collegiate basketball team in the state after losses to Georgia and Kennessaw State.

With dates against Savannah State and Mercer looming on the horizon, it would behoove Tech to lose those games as well so as not to threaten its reputation as a university that cares about one thing and one thing only: Academics.

Even university athletic director Dan Radakovich is fully aware that his job is to make sure that the athletics program never overshadows the school's academic prestige.

“We went to the finals of the ACC tournament last year,” Radakovich said. “We went to the second round of the NCAA tournament. That wasn’t a bad year.”

“But there was significant progress over the previous couple of years. I feel like we’re going in the right direction.”

Basically, what Radakovich is saying is that last year wasn't bad enough and that Hewitt better continue losing games so that the basketball program continues "going in the right direction": Towards obscurity.

As much as I'd like to hop on board with all the "Hewitt Haters", I simply can't.

Hewitt wasn't brought in to win basketball games, folks. He was hired to recruit NBA talents that amount to nothing, be perfectly adequate and not distract us from the university's academic prowess.

How could you fire someone who's actually fulfilling their job requirements?

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