Billy Gillispie and Texas Tech are both in a bind. Gillispie has a team in revolt. Texas Tech has a head basketball coach accused of mistreating players. It is worth remembering that the last time a prominent Texas Tech coach (Mike Leach) was accused of mistreating a player, the facts of the case did not seem to matter.
Gillispie is currently on an indefinite medical leave and has been removed from making any day to day decisions for the men’s basketball program. In fact, he has been told to not have any contact with the team. The medical leave actually functions like a suspension, for all practical purposes. The added benefit for Gillispie is that it allows him to avoid a meeting and potential confrontation with his boss, Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt.
This entire affair has put Texas Tech in an almost no win situation. On one hand, this is a terrible time to fire a coach. That is especially true with the basketball team coming off of a historically bad season, not to mention it follows Gillispie’s first year in Lubbock. No university wants to be looking for its third coach in three years. That is not a situation that will attract good coaches to Texas Tech.
On the other hand, Texas Tech will have a really hard time trying to keep Coach Gillispie. It is an unintended consequence of the Mike Leach fiasco. The university has already set a precedent about player treatment. This is not about whether the university was right or wrong in dealing with any of its former coaches. However, once a precedent has been established for how employees will be handled, all employees should be treated the same.
If Billy Gillispie is allowed to return to the team as the head coach, Texas Tech will lose any credibility their athletic department currently has. The truth is that the current allegations about Coach Gillispie are more serious than any allegations made against any other Texas Tech coach in recent memory.
So, how does the whole Gillispie saga play out? The most logical resolution would be for Texas Tech and Coach Gillispie to eventually announce that the coach has decided to resign due to health concerns. It would spare Coach Gillispie the embarrassment of being fired after only one year on the job and saves Texas Tech from another messy divorce.
The worst thing that could happen as far as Texas Tech is concerned is for this to continue to play out in the local and national media. The more charges and counter charges that get thrown around, the more reason Texas Tech gives the national media to question the entire sports culture at Texas Tech.