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The 'Wright' decision: SGT hires men's hoops coach Steven Wright as new A.D.

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

AMERICUS -- Steven Wright was there when South Georgia Tech reinstated its men's basketball program in 2001, and he won't mind if he's there the rest of his career.

The men's head coach for the last five seasons will now handle the duties of athletic director as well.

"I'm very grateful for (SGT) President (Sparky) Reeves for the opportunity," Wright said after being hired as A.D. last week. "The first 10 years have been very good for me, and in that, I've been entrusted with a lot. The school has put a lot of confidence in me, and every role I have been able to play has been successful. I hope that continues with each decision we make."

Wright was the men's assistant his first five years at SGTC under Chris Wade, helping the Jets to a 102-57 record, a GCAA Championship and two runner-up finished. Promoted in the 2006-07 season, Wright is 101-58 with a GCAA Championship in 2008-09, a NJCAA National Tournament appearance and a runner-up finish.

He was an assistant at Americus High under Wade two years before following him to SGTC, and he ran a home patient medical supply store for four years before moving to education.

Wright replaces Janice Davis, the vice president of administrative services and the school's A.D. for the past 10 years.

"We are interested in taking our athletic program to the next level," Reeves said. "Janice Davis has done an exceptional job of leading our athletic department as the director for the past 10 years, and she will still be involved with the program. As we look ahead to expanding our sports offerings, the decision was made to move more of this responsibility to coach Wright who is involved in the day-to-day operations of the athletic department."

Wright is also the conference's chairman for men's basketball, saying management is his "niche."

"I think I'm cut out of the mold to be in management and oversee operations," Wright said. "In my 10 years, I've certainly seen (the basketball programs) go from being just glad to have an opportunity to compete, (to) competing and winning. Winning has certainly escalated, while at the same time the newness, so to speak, has worn off.

"The challenge lies ahead to keep the community involved and interested, as well as continue to figure out ways to keep student-athletes successful in the classroom, in the community and on the court. If they're not successful in those three areas, I am not sure any of it will be a success. That's what our continued motivation is. In turn, that means success for the programs as well."

The women's basketball program was reinstated in 2004, and Wright said the school had a club men's team back in the 1970s.

There are 22 different schools in the GCAA with at least one sports program. There are 10 that have men's and women's basketball programs; 10 have softball; nine have baseball and women's soccer; and seven have men's soccer.

Wright said there is a possibility the school could start a couple of new sports programs, but will only do that if SGT can put together a quality team. The Jets won't add new sports in the interest of quantity, he said.

"None have been mentioned specifically. (Adding new teams is) kind of a dream at this point," he said. "We have a softball field here that's been recently renovated, so I could see that as a possibility. Baseball can be very good. I think that's something we could get into; our league already has pretty good baseball. Two, three or four schools have tennis, and we could obviously do that and compete with that as well. We have tennis courts.

"The one thing we have proven in 10 years is we're not going to settle for anything less than being at the top. We've proven that with men's basketball and with the ladies the last few years, as well. I think quality is more important than quantity. A lot of the GCAA schools have more sports, but all of them are just average, where if they had less, they could be better. We don't want to add to just have quantity. We want to be competitive and have a chance to win and a chance to graduate kids and move them on to the four-year level."

SGTC is scheduled to receive full "Commission on Colleges" accreditation in December, and Wright said "that will give our students more opportunities to advance educationally."

His first official day as A.D. was this past Monday, and Wright said he'll look to continue the school's motto of "Full speed ahead."

"My expectations are we do everything with class," he said. "We have done that, and we will continue to do that. We want to continue to fly the SGTC banner. Period. My goal is to make sure our student-athletes are competitive and successful.

"We want a chance to win the conference championship every year ... I know President Reeves is very adamant about our programs being successful. As he and I continue to work together, I think some of those decisions will be made where we continue to do that."

Reeves has no doubts Wright can do the job -- and do it exceptionally well.

"I am very pleased with the success that we have enjoyed over the past 10 years in our athletic endeavors, and I look forward to Steven Wright leading us into the next era," Reeves said. "I challenged him to move the program ahead when he was appointed head coach of the Jets in 2006, and he rose to the occasion by taking our men's team to their first national tournament in 2009. I expect the same type of effort from him again as we move forward and look at expanding our athletic program."

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South Georgia Tech's Su Ann Bird contributed to this report.