Texas Tech players rebel against Gillispie?

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
1:05
PM ET
That certainly appears to be the case, per ESPN.com's Andy Katz and Jason King, who reported Friday that multiple Texas Tech players said they had met with athletic director Kirby Hocutt to "[express] concern about the way they are being treated by second-year coach Billy Gillispie." From the story:
The players were initially called to meet individually with members of the compliance department about the number of hours they were being asked to practice.

[+] EnlargeBilly Gillispie
Shane Keyser/Getty ImagesBilly Gillispie has once again come under fire for the way he treats his players.
After the meeting with the compliance officials, the players met with Hocutt as a group. Associate athletics director Blayne Beal, who is in charge of communications, confirmed that the meeting took place with Hocutt and the returning players.

Andy and Jason spoke with multiple players for the story, who shared concerns about ... well, about pretty much everything that happens between coaches and players at the college level:
"Compliance wanted to know what's going on," said one returning player who requested that his name not be used. "(The meeting) was about a lot of stuff that goes on in practice, everything within the program, the way we're being coached, the relationship we've got with our coach, practice hours and stuff like that.''

The player said that Gillispie is 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.''

The player said there were a lot of "mental games" being played.

Players in respectful but open mutiny against their head coach? It's the last thing any athletics director wants to deal with. Not only does this kind of thing constitute a fundamental rupture in the hierarchical structure of a team, but it makes the university -- which saw fit to hire Gillispie to turn around its faltering program last summer -- look like it failed to properly vet the second-most important coach on its payroll.

As Andy and Jason note, this isn't the first time Gillispie has been criticized for the way he handles players. He faced similar issues following his departure from Kentucky, including from former Wildcat Josh Harrelson, who said Gillispie "once became so angered that he instructed him to sit in a bathroom stall during a halftime talk at Vanderbilt and then ordered him to ride back to Lexington in the Kentucky equipment truck." Stories like that, and others about Gillispie's careless attitude toward basketball office admins and staff, have damaged Gillispie's reputation nearly beyond repair. His post-Kentucky arrest for drunken driving, Gillispie's third since 1999, certainly doesn't help.

Which is to say: Unusual as this may be, and as shocking as it may seem, with Gillispie around it hardly comes as a surprise. The man's reputation both on and off the court precedes him. Once lauded for a tireless work ethic, Gillispie's moment in the bright lights at Kentucky -- as well as his inability to coexist with a litany of now-transferred players at Texas Tech and the stories about his behavior throughout -- have branded him as one of the most difficult personalities in the sport. And "difficult" is probably putting it lightly.

According to the report, no Red Raiders discussed transferring, or a change to Gillispie's job status, as part of their meeting with athletics administration. But if this sort of thing keeps up, will the program have any choice? Is Gillispie really long for his job? Can he change now? Despite some scattered lip-service to the contrary, Gillispie has never seemed all that eager to modify the way he does things: He has his style and his system, and the Kentucky failure (and the widespread desire for his services afterward) didn't seem to spurn much self-analysis in 2011, either.

And now Texas Tech finds itself here. Stay tuned.

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