As the scandal surrounding Billy Gillispie's treatment of players has engulfed his former school the past week, ex-Texas Tech coach Pat Knight has viewed the saga from afar with considerable sadness.
Knight, fired by Texas Tech in spring 2011, recruited and coached many of the players who transferred in the past year or approached the athletic director two weeks ago to complain about Gillispie's conduct. He neither vilified Gillispie nor defended him when asked to weigh in on the situation, instead urging patience and level-headedness from fans and media while Texas Tech's administration investigates the allegations.
"I feel for the kids and I feel for Billy," said Knight, now the head coach at Lamar. "That's never a good situation to be in if you're the kids or the head coach because you're under the microscope.
"The problem is people make too many judgments without knowing the whole story. I've been involved in that situation and seen it firsthand with other coaches, so I just want everyone to sit back and relax and let Tech figure out the whole story. You're not dealing with a dumb administration. They know what they're doing. And when they get all the facts, they'll make the right decision."
Texas Tech has been investigating Gillispie's conduct since a group of players met with athletic director Kirby Hocutt about two weeks ago to complain about how Gillispie had treated them. In the meantime, ex-players have come forward with complaints that Gillispie held practices up to eight hours long, he overworked injured players and he held players hostage while determining if he'd keep them on scholarship.
Knight has witnessed several similar situations firsthand, from the firing of his father at Indiana in 2000 to the dismissal of Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach in December 2009.
This time, Knight insists he doesn't have a clear picture of what has gone on at Texas Tech since he left last spring. He doesn't keep in regular contact with many of his former players and has turned down several of their requests to transfer to Lamar in the past year because he didn't want any accusations that he was poaching players from his former program.
"I just wanted to stay totally clear," Knight said. "I told my assistants, if you ever hear from anybody, don't get involved in that. I don't want Tech thinking I'm trying to take players away from them because I left on good terms. I don't want to jeopardize that."