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Hewitt turns down St. John's; now what?

FILE - In this March 18, 2010, file

FILE - In this March 18, 2010, file photo, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt looks on during NCAA college basketball practice in Milwaukee. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Morry Gash

With Paul Hewitt deciding to remain at Georgia Tech, who will be the next men's basketball coach at St. John's? That's a question St. John's athletic director Chris Monasch might be asking himself.

Hewitt was said to be Monasch's first choice - the university has downplayed an intermediary's pursuit of Florida's Billy Donovan - so Hewitt presumably was the only high-profile name on the list.

After one meeting with Monasch near the Atlanta airport, Hewitt withdrew his name from consideration, then held a late-night news conference in Atlanta after returning from a recruiting trip. "No formal offer was ever made," Hewitt told The Associated Press.

He added: "We really like the Atlanta area. My family is very, very important to me. Those are the people I've got to make sure are happy. If they're not happy, my life is kind of miserable."

If Georgia Tech wants to remove Hewitt, it will have to pay him a $7-million buyout - a good reason for him to think twice about leaving on his own.

As for other candidates, Cornell's run in the tournament under Steve Donahue could elevate the Ivy League coach into serious contention, and perhaps that is why Monasch had not immediately sought permission to speak with Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg as of last night.

Neither Donahue nor Greenberg is known to have expressed an interest in leaving his job. What St. John's will take from the pursuit of Hewitt is to make sure the next person they target wants the position.

For what it is worth, Greenberg reportedly has told his players he will return. "He has everybody back for next year and has a solid recruiting class coming in,'' Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver said. "By the same token, he's a New York guy. Those will be the factors on either side of the coin. Quite honestly, I don't know the answer to the question .''

Also, late last night, a published report said Boston College's Al Skinner is in the mix. Skinner grew up in Malverne.

This was St. John's second failed attempt at landing Hewitt, who graduated from Westbury High School and was an assistant for one season at C.W. Post. St. John's tried to pry Hewitt, 46, away from Georgia Tech in 2004 after his team made it to the NCAA Tournament final. Tech gave him a six-year contract to stay.

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