Gillispie once got so fed up with Josh Harrellson during halftime of a loss at Vanderbilt that he banished the Kentucky big man to a bathroom stall. Worse yet, Gillispie demanded after the game that Harrellson make the 200-mile drive back to Lexington in the team's equipment van.
Stories like that are why ESPN.com's report of a player mutiny against Gillispie at Texas Tech can't come as a huge surprise. This was one of the risks the Red Raiders took when they hired a man who won big in-state at UTEP and Texas A&M but has a prickly demeanor that tends to wear thin in a hurry.
According to the ESPN.com report, Texas Tech players expressed concerns during a meeting with athletic director Kirby Hocutt this week about the way Gillispie has treated them. The players initially spoke individually with members of Texas Tech's compliance department about the number of hours they were being asked to practice before meeting as a group with Hocutt.
A Texas Tech spokesman told ESPN.com the safety of student-athletes is something the school takes "extremely seriously" and officials are "looking into concerns within the leadership of our men's basketball program." The spokesman also added that he was informed early Friday morning that Gillispie was hospitalized in Lubbock but had no further details on his condition.
The rebellion of the Texas Tech players adds to what has already been a turbulent tenure for Gillispie since the Red Raiders hired him in spring 2011.
Texas Tech went 8-23 overall and 1-17 in league in Gillispie's first year in Lubbock, a surprisingly rough season even with the minimal talent previous coach Pat Knight left behind. Six Red Raiders subsequently transferred in the first two months after the season ended, freeing up plenty of room for Gillispie to bring his own recruits in.
Gradual improvement appeared possible next season with top two scorers Jordan Tolbert and Jaye Crockett due back and a large influx of newcomers set to arrive. The chaos behind the scenes, however, will only make that more difficult.
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- Billy Gillispie