In a still-breaking development, it appears Josh Pastner is departing the University of Memphis to become the new head basketball coach at Georgia Tech. A press conference is scheduled later today in Atlanta to announce the move officially.
The voluntary departure means the U of M will not be required to cover the guaranteed balance of Pastner's contract (through the 2019-20 season), a figure north of $10 million. The coach's standing in the local community plummeted over his last two seasons, each ending without a postseason appearance for the Tigers. Attendance for Tiger games at FedExForum barely reached 6,000 last season. (Average ticket sales for 2009-10, Pastner's first season in charge, was 16,498.)
Over seven years in Memphis, Pastner compiled a record of 167-73 and reached the NCAA tournament four times (though never the Sweet 16). The last two seasons, though, were clouded by the departure of key players like Austin Nichols and Nick King, highly ranked local recruits who were unable to find comfort under Pastner's guidance. After an 18-14 season in 2014-15, the Tigers went 19-15 last season, reaching the final of the American Athletic Conference tournament but again falling short of even an NIT bid.
Pastner replaces Brian Gregory at Georgia Tech, members of the acclaimed Atlantic Coast Conference. Gregory went 76-86 over five seasons with the Yellow Jackets. Duke assistant Jeff Capel had been considered a candidate for the job but removed himself from the search earlier this week.
U of M athletic director Tom Bowen will now be tasked with finding a coach for a program with very little "in the cupboard," so to speak. Star forward Dedric Lawson is exploring his standing with NBA scouts and may enter June's draft. Junior guard Avery Woodson has announced he's transferring. Whether or not Pastner's top 2016 recruit, point guard Charlie Moore, remains committed to the program is in doubt.
More to come as developments with this story unfold.