While the Lexington Courier-Journal’s Byron Crawford (no, not that one) proposes longtime equipment manager Bill Keightley to fill the Kentucky coaching vacancy, the Wildcats set their sights slightly higher after being rebuffed by Billy Donovan and Rick Barnes. From the AP’s Jeffrey McMurray.
Billy Gillispie was hired as Kentucky’s sixth coach in the last 76 years on Friday, a person familiar with the search process told The Associated Press. He’ll replace Tubby Smith, who spent a decade under the glare of college basketball’s brightest spotlight before bolting to Minnesota two weeks ago.
Gillispie, who led Texas A&M to the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 this year for the first time since 1980, will be introduced at a 11:15 a.m. CST pep rally at Memorial Coliseum followed by a news conference, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement.
Gillispie is 100-58 in five seasons as a head coach. He spent the last three years with the Aggies, molding the longtime also-ran into a Big 12 power. Texas A&M went 27-7 this season.
His success with the Aggies made Gillispie a hot commodity. He was approached by Arkansas after Stan Heath was fired, but decided to stay with the Aggies, agreeing in principle to a new contract worth $1.75 million that would have made him among the Big 12’s highest-paid coaches.
The 47-year-old Gillispie, however, never signed the deal and he didn’t hesitate when Kentucky came calling. Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne gave Barnhart permission to speak to Gillispie on Thursday night, and by Friday morning the Wildcats had their sixth coach since 1931.
In the event O.J. Mayo reneges on his commitment to USC and opts to play for Bob Huggins at West Virginia, I certainly hope he has the presence of mind to cite the above instance as an example of how the coaching fraternity is allowed to get away with murder.