Oh how the mighty have fallen. A little over five years ago, Billy Gillispie was one of the most coveted head coaches in all of college basketball. He left the Texas A & M Aggies to head down to Lexington,Kentucky to coach for one of the greatest programs in the history of the sport. After two seasons and only one NCAA Tournament game appearance, Gillispie was let go of. Some name-calling and an ugly lawsuit followed, but that didn’t stop Gillispie from coming back to the Lone Star state in 2011 to take over for Pat (and Bobby before him) Knight at Texas Tech.
Embarking on his second season and what do you know, things aren’t going so well in Lubbock for Gillispie. News has been coming out all week that Gillispie has violated NCAA rules, exceeding practice time for his players, but even worse, several players have complained to the school’s athletic director, Kirby Hocutt, that Gillispie has mistreated them, asking them to practice injured even at times.
Gillispie was released from the hospital today after spending almost a week there being treated for stress and high blood pressure. While his name and job have been under pressure for the last week, he’s yet to make a public appearance or speak to the media regarding his status or the allegations that he’s been accused of. He’s clearly in big trouble, but how will he respond to the storm coming his way for the past week?
He can’t stay silent forever, and when he speaks, there’s one thing he should say: I resign.
Gillispie’s known for being notorious with practices, he’s been that way in all of his coaching gigs. From UTEP, to Texas A&M, to Kentucky, and now with Texas Tech. When Gillispie was axed from Kentucky, it was said to be because he didn’t have the personality for the job, meaning he wasn’t getting the grade-A recruits because they didn’t want to play for a coach as demanding as he is. Don’t get me wrong, all of the great coaches are demanding, I just doubt that any of them have made college students practice extra hours with stress fractures, as Gillispie’s being accused of.
The way I see it, once your players go above your head to the athletic director, you’re toast. This isn’t a “we think he’s a dumb coach” thing, this is a “we can’t stand the guy and he doesn’t seem to care about our physical limits” thing. They may not look like it, but these are still kids playing a sport, and not to make it sound so innocent, but this is a man now known for wearing out his welcome almost as well as he’s known for having three DUI’s.
Gillispie may still have some of his players’ support, and he’s still a hell of a coach and a great basketball mind, but the Texas Tech athletic program is coming off of something similar with former football coach Mike Leach mistreating players, and the university cannot allow for that to be the norm within their athletic programs. They certainly didn’t envision Gillispie being a one-and-done, and this is as bad of a time to start looking for a new coach, but it’s clear that Billy Gillispie’s gotta go.
For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth