Josh Pastner is leaving Memphis after seven seasons to join the head coaching ranks of the ACC at Georgia Tech. The 38-year-old Pastner went 167-73 in his time at Memphis, following John Calipari. Georgia Tech fired head coach Brian Gregory last month following a 21-15 season and quarterfinal exit from the NIT.
Pastner’s Tigers have seen a decline in performance over the past couple years, making just one NCAA Tournament appearance in the three years since joining the new American Athletic Conference. Rumors swirled that Pastner may be on the hot-seat this March after the Tigers missed the postseason and finished in 7th place in the AAC. However, the situation was complicated by an incredibly large buyout built into Pastner’s contract. If the school were to fire him this offseason (there is no indication they wanted to or even considered it) they would have owed the coach a cool $10.6 million buyout (the remaining balance on his contract, which is completely guaranteed).
The mutual break here was probably the best outcome for both parties. Pastner reportedly negotiated a buyout with the school to terminate the contract, allowing him to move onto bigger and better things while also freeing the school from the expensive agreement. Pastner’s recent history isn’t sterling, but in his first four years at Memphis he went to the postseason every year, won the C-USA regular season twice, C-USA tournament three times and was named C-USA Coach of the Year in 2013.
By comparison, Pastner’s resume far outshines his predecessors Gregory and Paul Hewitt. Each of those coaches came to Georgia Tech with less NCAA Tournament experience and fewer conference titles to their names.
The Memphis job becomes the highest profile opening now, with early indications pointing to Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall as the school’s first target. Marshall has turned down job’s in the past, but the Memphis gig would probably be the best one to come along yet.