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Georgia Tech hires Josh Pastner from Memphis to replace Brian Gregory as mens basketball coach
Memphis head coach Josh Pastner gestures in the first half of a Feb. 25 game in Memphis, Tenn. - photo by Brandon Dill

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech hired Josh Pastner from Memphis on Friday to become its next men’s basketball coach.

Georgia Tech announced the hiring and scheduled a news conference for Friday afternoon. Pastner, 38, will replace Brian Gregory, who was fired after failing to reach the NCAA Tournament in five seasons.

Pastner was 167-73 with four NCAA Tournament bids in seven years at Memphis. He did not finish his stay with the Tigers on a high note. Memphis was a combined 37-29 the last two years, failing to land an NCAA invitation each season. It finished 19-15 this season.

Despite the downturn of the Memphis program the last two years, which included a drop in attendance, Pastner comes to Georgia Tech with a reputation as a strong recruiter.

Pastner already has recruiting contacts in Atlanta. Two of his heralded recruits at Memphis were signed from Atlanta — 2015-16 senior Shaq Goodwin and Tiger Jelan Kendrick, though Kendrick later was dismissed from the team by Pastner before playing at Mississippi and UNLV.

Expectations at Memphis were high this season after Pastner landed a recruiting class ranked 17th nationally by Instead, a disappointing year left Pastner’s status at Memphis in doubt.

He would have been owed $10.6 million if fired by Memphis, and that helped to save his job.

Memphis President David Rudd and athletic director Tom Bowen said on March 18 the school was sticking with Pastner but would “make the necessary investments and changes” so it can “compete at the highest level.”

Pastner will owe Memphis $500,000 for leaving the job.

Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski fired Gregory on March 25.

Gregory was 76-86 in five seasons, including 27-61 in the ACC. This year’s team finished 21-15, including two wins in the NIT. Gregory needed to make the NCAA field to possibly save his job.

The Yellow Jackets haven’t received a bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2010 and Pastner will inherit a young roster.

Leaning heavily on transfers, this year’s Georgia Tech roster included five seniors, including top scorers Marcus Georges-Hunt and Adam Smith.

Georgia Tech will owe Gregory more than $1.3 million for the final two years of his contract. The school almost must pay Gregory’s predecessor, Paul Hewitt, $2.7 million over the next three years — the remainder of a $7.2 million buyout he received after being fired in 2011.

The financial strain also was impacted by dwindling attendance at McCamish Pavilion. This season’s average home attendance was 5,993, down from last season’s average of 6,201.

Pastner received a raise to $2.65 million in 2013, when Memphis finished 31-5 with a win in the NCAA Tournament. The terms of his agreement with Georgia Tech were not immediately available.

Pastner played at Arizona from 1996-2000 before working at his alma mater as a recruiting coordinator, graduate assistant and assistant coach from 2000-08. He was a Memphis assistant before being named coach on April 7, 2009.

Pastner enjoyed a strong start as coach. He is one of only three coaches to lead Memphis to four straight NCAA Tournaments (2011-14), following Dana Kirk and John Calipari.

After winning two straight Conference USA championships with Pastner, Memphis fell to third, fifth and seventh in the American Athletic Conference the last three years. This year’s team was seventh in the conference at 8-10.

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