Outgoing GM shoots down Hawks rumours

Departing Wollongong Hawks general manager Stuart Wilkinson has slam-dunked rumours of the club's imminent demise, insisting the team's future is safe in the National Basketball League.

Wollongong Hawks' Tyson Demos trains at the Snake Pit. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Wollongong Hawks' Tyson Demos trains at the Snake Pit. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Mr Wilkinson officially stepped down on Friday, ending a brief six-month tenure in the GM's chair.

He has taken on a senior management role with C3 Church Thirroul, a position he has long sought.

Mr Wilkinson flatly refuted suggestions he was abandoning ship, claiming speculation the Hawks were in financial trouble was well off the mark.

"I'm definitely not leaving this club in the lurch," he said.

"What's happened over the last three weeks with the bigger crowds we're getting is really testimony of what Wollongong can do for the Hawks. It's shown that they can rally together from [city] council through to business and all the way through to local families, that they can come together and support their team.

"It's not about big money being put in. It's about exactly what's happened the last couple of weeks. Every business doing a little bit to promote or get involved or invest or turn up at the game. Those things tick the boxes in a big way for sustainability."

The departure of Arun Jagatramka from the Hawks board of directors will have no effect on the club's multi-year sponsorship deal with Wollongong Coal.

Mr Jagatramka sponsored the Hawks when he owned Gujarat NRE but has nothing to do with the club's existing deal with Wollongong Coal, which recently gave assurances it would continue to fulfil the terms of the contract.

"Things have played out with the challenges that our major partner has had, and there's been concern from everyone, from the community to the media and the NBL," Mr Wilkinson said.

"The good thing has been that the NBL has been proactive and hasn't been waiting for something to go pear-shaped, which it hasn't yet. We haven't had any indication otherwise from Wollongong Coal that it will. There's an agreement in place and they've committed to honour that."

Mr Wilkinson is convinced the NBL doesn't want to lose its last remaining foundation team.

"The league has come on board and they're working with the clubs, so there's a support there; a safety net if you like," he said.

"From a confidence point of view, I've never seen that in three years I've been here, and in talking to other people, that kind of level of support has never been there from the NBL.

"The NBL needs eight teams to meet their contracted obligations next year and there's no other team out there that is going to be able to fill that spot.

"A draft draw has been released ... the club is in a good position, and the good thing is the league is in a good position and going through a growth period."


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