March 07, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Billy Gillispie speaks to a player on the bench during the second half of the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the first round of the 2012 Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center. Oklahoma State won 76 - 60. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
The quote to the right is the entire statement that was released yesterday afternoon from Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt on the resignation of men's head coach Billy Gillispie. Also in the press release is the mention that Gillispie will be paid for the remainder of this year and most likely, this was the settlement released between Texas Tech and Gillispie. Otherwise, Hocutt would not be able to call this a resignation, but a termination. Make no mistake, there is a reason why that detail is in that press release as I think Hocutt wants you to know that mutual agreements are eventually reached. That's a good thing.
The Wheels Were In Motion
In 2011 the wheels were already in motion when Kirby Hocutt was hired. Athletic director Kirby Hocutt was hired on March 3, 2011. Pat Knight was fired on March 7, 2011. Billy Gillispie was hired on March 20, 2011. It seems that those wheels were in motion and that the decision had been made long before Hocutt was hired.
In fact, on March 8, 2011, I wrote the following via AAS Kirk Bohls tweeting on the firing of Pat Knight and that it was President Guy Bailey's call to fire Pat:
The only thing that bothers me about this is that the current AD Gerald Myers didn't do what he should have done. AAS's Kirk Bohls tweeted, "Pat Knight's firing was TT prez Guy Bailey's call. Outgoing AD Gerald Myers, who hired Bob Knight, tried to save Pat.". I don't know if anyone else noticed this, but when Kirby Hocutt was hired, Gerald Myers was not in attendance at the Hocutt press conference. For whatever reason, maybe Pat knew that Myers wasn't going to be honest with him, which is why he sought out Bailey. I'm not sure what to think about this, other than it's is the strangest part about Pat's termination was that Myers isn't really anywhere to be found.
* Texas Tech Players Question Gillispie Practice Regiment and Gillispie Hospitalized -- Report | Texas Tech Head Coach Gillispie Physically and Mentally Abuses Players
* Billy Gillispie Reprimanded for Practice Time Violations, Hocutt Says Allegations "Serious Issues"
* Texas Tech Head Coach Takes Indefinite Sick Leave; Jordan Tolbert Does Not Want to Play for Gillispie
* Gillispie Not to Engage With Basketball Program
* Chris Walker Placed In Charge of Day-to-Day Operations of Texas Tech Basketball
* Report | Staff "Appalled" at Gillispie's Treatment of Players and Gillispie Expects to Have Coached Last Game at Texas Tech
* Texas Tech Men’s Basketball – A Path Forward
In the same article, FWST's Mike Jones affirmed that the wheels had been in motion to hire Gillispie:
I’ve been told that there are some financially heavy Tech people who are going to lobby on Gillispie’s behalf. Multi-million-dollar-type heavy. The question is whether or not they have the clout they think they do.
Last but not least, I put a poll at the bottom of the page and Gillispie earned 63% of the votes for who we wanted to be the next Texas Tech head coach with 692 people voting. I think there was a large portion of the fanbase that wanted Gillispie, despite his warts. And he did have some warts, but he was a winner, a proven winner, and for a group of fans that were desperate for a winning program, we thought it was worth the risk.
This isn't to say that Hocutt didn't have some say in hiring Gillispie, he obviously did and he obviously interviewed him. He had to have known what he was getting, but I think there is some truth there in that this seemed to be destined, BCG was from West Texas and we embrace things like that.
Learning From Mistakes
When Gillispie was hired he took in four of the five of the commits that Pat Knight had committed, but he let go two seniors that I can recall, SF Theron Jenkins and PF Paul Cooper. He didn't take in PF Hershey Robinson and dropped Jamel Outler and Mike Davis. Jenkins and Cooper were both set to be seniors last year, but Gillispie let them go and he brought in three JUCO players, PG Ty Nurse, SF Jaron Nash and C Kader Tapsoba and high schoolers SF Cameron Forte and PG Deshon Minnis. Forte was dropped or left halfway through the season. Then there was the sitation in hiring assistant coaches, stringing along Chris Beard and Tom Coverdale for what seemed like a long time.
But when Gillispie was hired (PDF), he said that he would not make the same mistakes that he had made at Kentucky:
But I never worry about those mistakes. You try to learn from them and not repeat them. But those things don't determine us. It's what we do in the future that does.
I referenced this Kentucky Sports Radio article on why Gillispie was fired earlier in this process and here are the reasons why Gillispie, according to Matt Jones, was fired at Kentucky: 1) Interpersonal Relationships with Administrators, Boosters and Staff; 2. Derrick Jasper; 3. The Media Problems; 4. Play Relationships; and 5. Not an ambassador.
I don't know how many of this past mistakes that Gillispie learned from, he obviously learned from his relationship with Derrick Jasper as he hired Jasper as a graduate assistant. He healed whatever relationship he had with Jasper to an extent, but the some of the mistakes remained. Gillispie allegedly let go at least 15 staff members. These aren't players, but people that he may have treated poorly.
And the players that left is a long list. Either BCG didn't think that they could play or the left on their own. It's a tough situation and most of the players found homes, but PG Kevin Wagner, SF Jaron Nash, SF Terran Petteway, PG Deshon Minnis, were asked to leave or left on their own accord. I don't know the truth and it's probably a bit of both situations. There were allegations that Gillispie was questioning as to whether or not he would renew the scholarships of Dejan Kravic and Ty Nurse. If you add in Forte, Marshall Henderson, who never played for BCG but had transferred from Utah and could have played, there eleven players that left:
1. Cameron Forte
2. Marshall Henderson
3. Jamel Outler
4. Mike Davis
5. Theron Jenkins
6. Paul Cooper
7. Deshon Minnis
8. Jaron Nash
9. Javarez Willis
10. Kevin Wagner
11. Terran Petteway.
That's not the fifteen that was reported, but it's still quite a bit, almost an entire roster turned over in just two years. If I have missed any, just let me know and I'll add to the list.
The player treatment is a huge part of this deal. It's a tricky situation in that if you say that you should never let players dictate who is hired or fired, that's true, but it is troubling when players say that they don't even want to play for a coach. I don't think that PF Jordan Tolbert's comments swayed Hocutt, as it should have been the culmination of evidence of his overall treatment of players and staff. Even if you discount Tolbert's statement, one of the articles linked above noted that the administrative staff was appalled at Gillsipie's treatment of players. So it apparently just wasn't the players, but after investigation, it was a lot of people that didn't like the way he was treating people.
Associate head coach Chris Walker was not named as the interim head coach and there is a thought that Hocutt may look for a permanent replacement immediately. The one thing I feel fairly certain about is that Hocutt won't rush to a decision. I'm fine with Walker for this year and although this is not the best circumstances for an audition, I would guess that Walker will do his best. But Hocutt needs to take his time with his decision. Things are a mess right now and rushing to make a permanent hire in a couple of weeks isn't appropriate. Practices are to start next month, we can hit ctrl-alt-delete after the season.