The news broke on Friday.
Billy Gillispie, the man who was the hottest coach in the country back in 2007 when he was hired by Kentucky, was on the verge of losing his job after his players at Texas Tech had accused him of mistreatment.
The accusations at that point were pretty vague. Officials at Tech were looking into “concerns within the leadership of our men’s basketball program” that may have involved “the number of hours they were being asked to practice.”
Gillispie was coming off of a season where his team went 8-23 and just 1-17 in Big 12 play. He had seen more than half of his roster leave in each of the last two offseasons. We knew things were bad there, but it wasn’t until Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com really got to digging that we learned just how bad it was.
Since Gillispie took over the program 18 months ago, 15 players have transferred out of the program. That includes Wannah Bail, who was the (now aptly named) crown jewel of Gillispie’s 2012 recruiting class. Those players make up less than half the number of people associated with the program that have left during Gillispie’s tenure, more than 30 people including secretaries, academic advisors, assistant coaches, and student managers. He’s blatantly lied to numerous people about job openings on his staff, even allowing some to quit their jobs before telling them that the position he had offered was no longer available. He left players in scholarship limbo, including two Canadians that were told that if they used the $1,000 airplane tickets that they bought to go home they wouldn’t be allowed back on the team.
He’s a (insert word that’s not acceptable on College Basketball Talk). We know this.
But what makes him a truly despicable person is this passage. From CBSSports.com:
“We used to go more than four hours all the time,” added Jaron Nash, who transferred to North Dakota after last season. “I remember that day when we went almost all day. We didn’t leave until 9 p.m. or so. It was pretty bad. A lot of guys were really hurt after it. One guy had a stress fracture in both legs.”
One source identified that player as African native Kader Tapsoba, who did not play last season while dealing with multiple stress fractures.
“He was literally crying at practice,” said the source, who was with the program last season. “He couldn’t even run and Gillispie had him running up and down the steps at the arena. I remember the doctor getting the X-rays back and coming to practice and telling Gillispie it was really bad. He’d just ice him up and tell him to go practice.”
“He shouldn’t have been practicing,” he added. “But he bullied everyone, including the trainer. He’d make the trainer make kids come back. Bodies were dropping like flies. One day I walked in and the whole team was in the training room. All the players and even the managers. He’d make them practice.”
The team’s star player, Jordan Tolbert, cut his hand on the rim one day last year in practice and suffered a four-inch gash across his fingers. The next day, according to one source, Gillispie had the trainer bandage his hand and then instructed Tolbert to dunk the ball every time he caught it.
There really are no words to say here.
Calling that kind of behavior unacceptable would be the understatement of the year. Gillispie is a complete (insert word that’s not acceptable on College Basketball Talk), but what makes matters even worse is that he won’t even stand to face the music. He’s hiding out in a hospital, claiming that he had a ”stroke or a heart attack”.
I don’t see anyway that Gillispie can come back from this given his track record, which includes well-documented issues with drinking and driving, plenty of incidents that have come to light regarding his time at Kentucky and one not-so-flattering rumor regarding a night in a bar with ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards.
How can Texas Tech keep him as a head coach? How can any other school hire him?
It’s incredible, really. Five years ago, Gillispie was the nation’s premiere, can’t-miss coaching prospect. Now he’s the drunk that once made a player practice for so long that he got stress fractures in both legs.
I’d never send my kid to play for him.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.