Although sources say he intends to coach this season at Texas Tech, Billy Gillispie has left Lubbock, Texas, to seek treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
Gillispie, embattled over his alleged treatment of players, texted the Associated Press that he will be treated for high blood pressure “amongst other things” at the Rochester, Minn., clinic.
“Coach Gillispie is both a great coach and a great man who truly cares about helping young men achieve their dreams and true potential,” an unnamed source told ESPN. “Hopefully, he'll find the answers to his medical issues quickly and be able to return to the Red Raiders and lead their basketball program back into national prominence.”
Gillispie, who told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that he felt like he was having a stroke or heart attack, was discharged from a Lubbock hospital last Thursday after a six-day stay. He called 911 Friday and again Monday for undisclosed reasons.
Two weeks ago, several Tech players met with Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt and compliance officials to complain that Gillispie mistreated them and had exceeded the NCAA limit on practice times. Gillispie, who had been reprimanded in January for that, was told to have no contact with the team until he met with Hocutt. CBSSports.com reported that two players, who have since transferred, said they were made to practice when injured and that Gillispie once had an eight-hour workout.
“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. “In the meantime, Associate Head Coach Chris Walker will assume the responsibility for day-to-day operations of our men's basketball program. Coach Walker will help ensure that leadership and accountability will be in place for our student-athletes, assistant coaches and staff.
“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.”
Gillispie has been dealing with stress off the court. His mother, to whom he was close, died of lung cancer in February 2011 and shortly afterward he lost about $2.3 million in corporate bonds in a Ponzi scheme, according to Sports Illustrated. In July, Gillispie’s nephew drowned.
While Gillispie seeks treatment, the team’s leading scorer reportedly does not want to play for Gillispie again and Texas Tech ponders its future. A link to its past — and the firing of Mike Leach as football coach — seems unavoidable, Mike Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News writes.