ATLANTA — After giving serious consideration to whether a change was needed, Georgia Tech decided to bring back embattled coach Brian Gregory for another season.
Athletic director Mike Bobinski announced Monday that he still believes Gregory is capable of turning around a once-powerhouse program that has fallen on hard times. The Yellow Jackets finished 12-19 overall and 3-15 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"We had a miserable year," Bobinski conceded. "We can't stay where we are."
But, after consulting with other coaches and meeting with Gregory after the season ended last Tuesday with a first-round loss in the ACC Tournament, Bobinski decided a change was not needed.
Not yet anyway.
While not exactly providing Gregory with a glowing endorsement, Bobinski stressed that he's "all in" on his coach and will give him a fair chance to turn things around next year.
"We're not going to cast him into the sea and hope he gets back to shore," Bobinski said.
The AD was vague about the sort of progress he expects.
"It's not as much about a number as showing clear signs of progress and a belief in the future of the program," Bobinski said. "That's ultimately what it comes down to."
He also stressed that the decision to keep Gregory was not strictly based on finances.
Georgia Tech finds itself in a challenging position financially, struggling through attendance woes in both football and basketball, as well as dealing with the debt of number of new athletic facilities on campus — including an essentially new basketball arena, the McCamish Pavilion, that opened for Gregory's second season.
Gregory still has three years left on his current contract, which guarantees him another $2.4 million. In addition, the Yellow Jackets are still paying $900,000 a year to previous coach Paul Hewitt, a commitment that runs until 2019.
But Bobinski said he had gone over the numbers, in case Gregory was dismissed, and "we had figured all that out."
Clearly, it wasn't a slam dunk to give bring Gregory back.
"I jumped both sides of the fence on this," Bobinski said, meeting with a small group of reporters in his campus office. "I'd be lying if I said otherwise. It was not an easy decision."
Gregory was on the road recruiting Monday and not available for comment.
But he said throughout the season that his team wasn't too far away, pointing to a staggering 14 losses by no more than six points or in overtime.
Gregory's overall record at Georgia Tech is 55-71 in four seasons, including a dismal 19-51 mark in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets have not made a postseason appearance during his tenure, and the only winning record was a 16-15 finish in 2012-13.
Gregory was hired in 2011 after eight seasons at Dayton, where he had two NCAA Tournament appearances and won the 2010 NIT championship. He hasn't come close to that level at Georgia Tech.
While saying the close losses did provide some reason for optimism, Bobinski stressed that trend must be reversed. In particular, he expressed frustration at the team's offensive woes during his meetings with Gregory.
"Offense can't be something we do between defensive possessions," Bobinski said. "We were too easy to guard this year.
We had too much purposeless dribbling. There's no need to sugarcoat anything. We know where we are and what we have to do better."
Recruiting is another area that must improve. Gregory has yet to land the sort of five-star recruits that were the norm when Bobby Cremins was coaching at Georgia Tech in the 1980s and '90s.
There's no reason for the Yellow Jackets to keep missing out on those sort of players, Bobinski said.
"We've got all the pieces," he said. "We've got the arena. We've got a great city that is attractive to young people in every way. There are a lot of things in our favor. There's no reason for us not to be successful."