Monday, September 10, 2012

After Mike Leach, Texas Tech Has No Choice In Billy Gillispie Case

Billy Gillispie is in the hot seat after player misconduct allegations. (Sports Illustrated)

Texas Tech head basketball coach Billy Gillispie might not have much time left in Lubbock, and the university might not have a choice in the matter.

CBS Sports has been headlining reports for the last week about allegations that Gillispie mistreated players and broke NCAA rules. Gillispie has been accused of over-practicing players - and not adhering to the NCAA’s mandate that says teams cannot practice for more than four hours a day and 20 hours a week - as well as making injured athletes practice and taking back job promises to potential coaches.

The situation is not one-sided. Former players and fellow coaches have come to Gillispie’s defense, with players saying they would play for the coach again. Some have come down hard on the coach, while others are criticizing the players for being soft.

It’s tough to decide a coach’s fate when proof and facts are not yet clear, but because of recent history, Texas Tech will need to fire Gillispie. Just go back to 2009 when Red Raiders head football coach Mike Leach was accused of mistreating player Adam James. Texas Tech fired Leach after an investigation into the issue.

Texas Tech made a statement with the firing, showing that success on the field would not save a coach from alleged wrong-doings. The Red Raiders were 8-4 and played in the Alamo Bowl when Leach was fired. Gillispie’s Red Raiders were last in the Big 12 in his first season as head coach.

Leach was fired for his alleged actions against one player. Gillispie’s accused actions involve an entire team, and whether he is guilty of his accusations or not, 15 players have left the program since his arrival.

Texas Tech set a precedent that it would not allow player misconduct to even be a question, so can it afford to keep Gillispie around after this? The cost would be heavy. The university would be looked at as a hypocrite and has to be consistent with it’s handling of punishments. The situations aren't identical, but both fall under player misconduct.

The university ripped the winningest football coach in school history away from the team, so it can’t keep a basketball coach who went 8-23 last season after similar allegations. Regardless if Gillispie is guilty or not, his reputation has been tarnished, which could make his progress at Texas Tech more difficult.

The question now is if Texas Tech can change its chance to allow Gillispie's progress to continue after bringing Leach’s career to a halt. 

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