Above: Josh Pastner was officially hired by Georgia Tech April 8.
Georgia Tech has hired Josh Pastner as its men’s basketball coach, putting one of Georgia’s most prominent coaching jobs in Jewish hands.
The 38-year-old West Virginia native comes to Atlanta from the University of Memphis, his first college head-coaching job, where he compiled a 167-73 record in seven seasons as one of the youngest coaches in NCAA Division I.
He led the Tigers to the NCAA tournament four times and the NIT once but failed to make the postseason the past two seasons.
Still, an extensive search for the successor to Brian Gregory, fired March 25 after five seasons, left no doubt that Pastner was the best man for the job, Georgia Tech Athletic Director Mike Bobinski said at a news conference announcing the hiring Friday, April 8.
He said Pastner fulfilled the qualities Tech was seeking: integrity; an understanding and appreciation for Georgia Tech and its academic mission; great energy (“This is not a job for the faint of heart”); intelligence; recruiting ability; toughness; persistence; and “a true desire to be here at Georgia Tech.”
“I fully understand what it means to be sitting in this chair, what it means to the community and the entire city and to all the alumni locally and nationally,” Pastner said, adding that he spoke that day with the past three coaches, Gregory, Paul Hewitt and Bobby Cremins, to gain a greater understanding of Tech’s position.
“When you’re in coaching, you want to play for a national championship and compete at the highest level. You want to have a championship program year in and year out,” said Pastner, who spoke at the Maccabi Games opening ceremonies in Memphis in 2012. “I believe that Georgia Tech and the job here is a true gold mine.”
Despite not making the NCAA tournament the past six years, the Tech basketball program arguably trails only the three professional sports teams and the football teams at the University of Georgia and Tech in prominence in Atlanta. While Jews have served in ownership and senior executive posts, Pastner is alone in recent memory as a head coach for one of those teams.
Pastner played on Arizona’s national championship team in 1997 and was an assistant under Lute Olson at Arizona and John Calipari at Memphis before becoming a college head coach. But he first coached top talent when he ran an AAU team in Houston at age 16. He also produced a scouting report on Houston high school talent when he was 13.