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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Billy Gillispie takes sick days, preventing Texas Tech from deciding his fate

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Billy Gillispie (US Presswire)

If Texas Tech officials intend to fire Billy Gillispie over allegations that he has mistreated players on his team, they may have to wait longer than they initially hoped.

School spokesman Blayne Beal told reporters Monday that Gillispie is taking accrued sick days before meeting with Texas Tech administrators. It's unclear at this point when he'll be back to work.

On the same day as reports surfaced that Texas Tech players met with athletic director Kirby Hocutt to complain about how Gillispie had treated them, Gillispie checked into a Lubbock hospital with symptoms he said felt like a mild stroke or heart attack. By the time Gillispie returned home six days later, his job was in jeopardy after ex-players came forward with complaints that he held practices up to eight hours long, he overworked injured players and that he held players hostage while determining if he'd keep them on scholarship.

Until more is known about the severity of Gillispie's health problems, it's unfair to accuse him of taking his sick days as a stall tactic. Nonetheless, it's safe to say Texas Tech would likely to act decisively in determining Gillispie's fate rather than have this scandal remain in the news cycle too much longer.

With no conclusion in site, ex-players and colleagues of Gillispie continue to weigh in on his character.

Ex-Texas A&M star Acie Law IV and Kansas coach Bill Self are among those who have defended Gillispie by portraying him as a demanding coach who only works his players hard to get the best out of them. Conversely, Texas Tech's leading returning scorer Jordan Tolbert told ESPN.com on Monday that he will transfer if Gillispie remains the Red Raiders coach.

[Pat Forde: SEC commissioner welcomes Texas A&M, Missouri to conference during busy weekend]

"Maybe I would [come back] for the assistants," Tolbert said. "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."

Once the most coveted college hoops coach on the market after engineering remarkable turnarounds at long-struggling UTEP and Texas A&M, Gillispie has since seen his stock plummet in a manner that would have been unfathomable five years ago.

He lasted a mere two years at Kentucky before a lack of on-court success and an inability to embrace the public demands of the position cost him his job. He had a third DUI and underwent alcohol counseling after that. And now his attempt to resurrect his career at Texas Tech may be over after one season during which he went 1-17 in the Big 12.

Sometime soon, Gillispie will come off sick leave and meet with Texas Tech administrators. Barring a surprise, that will mark the end of his tenure in Lubbock.

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