Billy Gillispie, once a rising star among coaches, is on the verge of losing another job, this time because of the firestorm of controversy around what some have deemed boorish behavior. His fate just might have been sealed at Texas Tech, however, with the words from the team’s leading scorer, Jordan Tolbert.
The sophomore forward told ESPN.com that he’d rather not play for Gillispie should he return to his job after a medical leave of absence.
“I don’t,” Tolbert said when asked if he wanted to play for Gillispie. “I don’t. Maybe I would for the assistants. I haven’t put that much thought into it. There is a big sense of urgency. I don’t want to play for him if he comes back.”
Gillispie has been on indefinite sick leave while his bosses investigate allegations that he mistreated his players during practices.
Tolbert was one of the returning players who met with Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt two weeks ago after the compliance office queried the players about excessive practice time.
Tolbert said the players have not been informed about Gillispie’s status or his health update after he was released last Thursday from University Medical Center following a six-day stay.
Texas Tech spokesperson Blayne Beal said Monday that Gillispie is taking sick days and it was not clear how long he will be out. Tolbert said the players were told that they would meet with Hocutt once he was able to meet with Gillispie. Beal said that meeting had not been set up as of Sunday night and that there was no timetable for a meeting.
But no decision could be made on the second-year coach until a meeting occurred. Multiple close friends of Gillispie in the coaching profession have told ESPN.com that they have not been able to reach Gillispie by phone or text for the past 10 days.
“We just don’t know,” Tolbert said. “We’re waiting to find out like everyone else. I haven’t seen or talked to him in two or three weeks.”
Tolbert said the players have been working out with the assistant coaches during Gillispie’s absence. Tolbert averaged 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds as a freshman on the Red Raiders’ 1-17 Big 12 team (8-23 overall).
“We still can be good,” Tolbert said. “But we do need a coach.”
Hocutt last week announced that the school had reprimanded Gillispie in January for exceeding practice-time limits the previous fall. The letter included language that there would be “no tolerance for disregard of rules,” Hocutt told The Associated Press.
The school penalized itself for the overage, docking twice the number of hours that Gillispie had exceeded during a two-week period in October or 12 hours and 20 minutes. An unidentified assistant coach was also reprimanded.
The NCAA allows 20 hours of practice per week.