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Ex-UK Coach Out of Hospital, In Hot Water in Texas

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Much as the University of Kentucky basketball faithful would like to, they will likely never forget the disastrous two-year tenure of former Wildcat head coach Billy Gillispie.

It’s a tenure that featured a first-round exit–as an 11-seed(!)–from the  NCAA Tournament in 2008 and a world-is-coming-to-an-end NIT appearance in 2009. And what’s interesting is the likelihood that poor on-court performance wasn’t even the deciding factor in Gillispie’s dismissal.

The guy was, by all accounts, a jerk! One of many of those accounts came in 2010 from former Wildcat reserve Mark Krebs in an interview with KentuckySportsRadio.com. Another, more recent, account comes to us from ESPN college basketball analyst Dana O’Neill, who relates that her all-access story on the Kentucky Wildcats three years ago was anything but.

And, now, we’ve learned that Billy Gillispie is in trouble at Texas Tech University. The Red Raiders hired Gillispie in 2011 after his self-imposed two-season exile from college basketball. Like many others, I thought this was the perfect hire.

Gillispie’s a Texas guy and had great success at UTEP and Texas A&M. I figured that if he was back in Texas and out from under the Kentucky microscope–which, it was clear, he could not handle–things would be just fine.

I was wrong.

I am not alone.

Apparently, calling Gillispie a taskmaster would be a gargantuan understatement. It seems he is committing secondary NCAA violations with regards to practice time for his team. And the team is in revolt. Coupled with his recent stay in a Lubbock hospital for high blood pressure, these are not good times for Billy Gillispie.

You know, all this came, simultaneously, as a bit of a surprise and as no surprise at all. My theory that Gillispie was just an unpleasant human being because he couldn’t handle the intense spotlight of Kentucky basketball was incorrect. Apparently, this is his personality.

His employment status at Texas Tech remains unclear, but I’d bet he’s on shaky ground. And, right now would be a terrific time for some soul searching.

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