Texas Tech men’s basketball coach Billy Gillispie has been hospitalized today in Lubbock, based on multiple media reports, in the wake of an ESPN.com report about a player mutiny that could put his job status in jeopardy.
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, in an online report, cited a spokesman at University Medical Center who confirmed that Gillispie was in satisfactory condition and underwent an ultrasound procedure around noon. Gillispie’s hospital stay began hours after ESPN.com reported that all nine of Tech’s remaining scholarship players went to Kirby Hocutt, the school’s athletic director, to complain about Gillispie’s mistreatment of players, citing “mind games” and marathon practices.
The Red Raiders posted an 8-23 record in Gillispie’s first season at the school, winning only one game against a Big 12 opponent. Since the season ended, six players have transferred.
In the ESPN report, Tech associate athletics director Blayne Beal said: “We are aware and are looking into concerns within the leadership of our men’s basketball program. Student-athlete well-being is our top priority and a matter that we take extremely seriously at Texas Tech. Texas Tech is devoting its full resources to look into this matter.”
CBS Sports cited an unnamed source close to Gillispie as suggesting the coach’s job could be in jeopardy. Asked if Gillispie’s job was in danger, the source replied: “This is very, very serious.”
Before taking the Tech job, Gillispie spent two seasons at Kentucky. He was fired after missing the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and accused, at that time, of behavioral problems with players. Gillispie, who entered the John Lucas After Care Program in Houston in 2009 following his third DUI arrest since 1999, earned a reputation for running tough practices while helping turn around programs at UTEP and Texas A&M before taking the job at Kentucky.
In the ESPN report, a current anonymous Tech player described Gillispie as a “good coach, teacher and mentor, but he's not the most personable person, not the coach you can go and talk to. He breaks you down. But he doesn’t build you back up. It’s hard to play for him when that happens every day. You feel like you’re getting torn down and you can’t get back up.”
Another current Tech player told ESPN: “The feeling is that some guys will leave if (Gillispie) stays, maybe some of the new guys or some of the old guys. We all have to talk to our families first.”
_ Jimmy Burch