Mutiny’s afoot at Texas Tech and it’s apparently taking a toll on head coach Billy Gillispie. The coach has voluntarily checked into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to treat his high blood pressure, a condition those close to the coach say is the result of a stressful past 18 months.
Gillispie’s mother died in February of last year after a two year bout with lung cancer. During that time, Gillispie took time away from coaching to be by his mother’s side, living with her and caring for her in her dying days. His mother’s cancer was discovered around the same time Gillispie was fired from his gig at Kentucky.
After that, Gillispie, along with other notable sports figures, lost millions in a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by former AAU basketball operator David Salinas. It was reported that Gillispie lost close to $2.3 million — this while he was caring for his dying mother. After this, Gillispie’s nephew drowned and family friends stated the coach took the death hard.
Gillispie lost a considerable amount of weight around this time too, something that now can be attributed to stress.
And then there’s this business with his players bailing on him and refusing to play for him. The mutiny at Texas Tech is the latest in a long line of issues for Gillispie and it appears it was enough to push him over the edge. It’s not clear how long he’ll beat the Mayo Clinic but it’s believed it could effect his coaching future with the Red Raiders.
Gillispie was hired by Texas Tech a month after his mother died and the Red Raiders proceeded to go 1-17 in the Big 12 and 8-23 overall. Players began to grow restless with how the program was being run and two players even transferred due to the way they felt Gillispie was running things. The players told CBSSports.com that Gillispie forced players to practice while injured and that he went as far as to hold an 8-hour practice.
On Monday, the team’s leading scorer Jordan Tolbert publicly said that he will not play for Gillispie this upcoming season.
Not everyone is down and out on Gillispie as former players have come forward in support of their coach.
“I would play for him again,” former Texas Tech forward Robert Lewandowski said. “He loves his players, with no exceptions. I would never doubt that for a second. Playing for him was tough, but I came out alive and a better person for it.”
But the support of past players isn’t changing the minds of the current ones involved in the mutiny. As many as four players met with athletic director Kirby Hocutt to state their concerns and their unwillingness to play for Gillispie this upcoming season. The players cited Gillispie’s being reprimanded by the NCAA in January for overworking players as proof Gillispie is a repeat offender of abusing players.
Hocutt stated he will wait until he speaks with Gillispie in person to make a final decision on the coaches future. But it appears that Gillispie’s health concerns are going to play a factor in his ultimate fate.
“We hope Billy Gillispie has a full recovery, but we cannot wait forever as we have a basketball team that starts practice soon,” Hocutt said in a statement. “We have been seeking a swift resolution to this issue from the very beginning. We remain committed to communicating with Billy face-to-face regarding the issues relating to the men’s basketball program; however, time is of the essence.”
There is no word on when the two sides will meet to discuss the future of the program.