Former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt will replace Jim Larranaga as head coah of Mason’s men’s basketball team.Photo Courtesy of  flickr user geeknerd99

Former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt will replace Jim Larranaga as head coah of Mason’s men’s basketball team.Photo Courtesy of flickr user geeknerd99

George Mason was picked as an early preseason top-25 team and they will likely be favored to win the CAA this season. They return four of five starters, losing just two players, Cam Long and Isaiah Tate, to graduation.
Everything seemed to be falling right in to alignment.
Students and fans in the Fairfax community were counting down the days until the season opener in November.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
After 14 seasons at the helm of the Patriots, coach Jim Larranaga resigned from the program and accepted a job in Florida, making him the new head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.
Mason fans were up in arms for the better part of the weekend, declaring the season over before it began via Twitter and Facebook.
But the long-awaited announcement came on Saturday afternoon: coach Paul Hewitt, formerly of Georgia Tech, will become the new basketball coach at George Mason University.
Hewitt was fired by the Yellow Jackets in March after posting a 190-162 record in 11 years at the school. He was just 72-104 in the Atlantic Coast Conference but coached his team to the 2004 national title game before losing 82-73 to Connecticut.
Mason Athletic Director Tom O’Connor initiated the interest in Hewitt as a potential candidate, saying, “We reached out to see if there was any interest. Once we determined there was, we began talking to [Hewitt].”
O’Connor had gotten to know Hewitt over the last few years while Hewitt served as an active member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and O’Connor was on the men’s basketball NCAA tournament selection committee.
“As a member of the committee, I had an opportunity to watch him coach practice one day,” O’Connor said. “I practically sat on his bench during a game. And I really liked what I saw.”
While he was a coach at Georgia Tech, Hewitt played a key role as a member of the Atlanta community.
“He has a great sense of being a basketball coach,” O’Connor said. “But he also has a great sense of life.”
He conducts an annual golf outing and auction to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Atlanta. He serves on the board of directors for Hearts Everywhere Reaching Out for Children, which organizes activities and benefits HIV-infected children. He also volunteers time with Camp Twin Lakes, which works with children with serious illnesses and special needs.
“I know he feels very deeply about the causes that he is involved in,” O’Connor said. “That is not just for show. And I would expect that he’ll continue that [in Fairfax].”
Hewitt has been equally successful with his contributions to teams on the court, as well.
He received the Fritz Pollard Coach of the Year award by the Black College Coaches Association and was listed at No. 71 among the nation’s 101 top minorities in sports by Sports Illustrated. Only 15 individuals within the collegiate ranks, and only four men’s basketball coaches, made that list.
He was named ACC Coach of the Year (2001), MAAC Coach of the Year (2000), BCA National Coach of the Year (2004) and appeared in six total NCAA tournaments.
But, at age 47, Hewitt was fired from Georgia Tech on March 12, making him a free agent for the first time in 14 years.
“He told us if he was going to stay in coaching, then he wanted it to be a program where he knew he could be successful in,” O’Connor said in an interview with “Like ours.”