Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Texas Tech Basketball Coach Saga Illustrates the Lack of Integrity in College Sports

Maybe Administrators Ought to Read Their Mission Statement

The diversion of college resources to athletics and the resultant decline in the effectiveness of colleges and the resultant increases in the cost of higher education has been well documented.  But to put a human face on the problem we now have the story of the basketball coach at Texas Tech University, and a sordid story it is.

The current coach, a gentleman named Billy Gillispie is accused of some pretty serious stuff, and players have left the University as a result of his alleged actions.

The players told Hocutt that Gillispie forced injured players to practice, made the team practice on game days and abused the N.C.A.A.’s limit on practice time. The former players Kevin Wagner and Jaron Nash, who both transferred from Texas Tech, told that one practice lasted eight hours. N.C.A.A. rules say teams cannot practice longer than four hours a day.

Now Coach Gillispie cannot defend himself because he has taken a medical leave.

Hocutt was concerned enough to call Gillispie into his office for a meeting two weeks ago. But hours before the meeting was to take place, Gillispie was sent to University Medical Center, where he was treated for six days because of high blood pressure. Gillispie told The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal he thought he was having a heart attack or a stroke from stress. Gillispie has been on sick leave since.

and it may be that Mr. Gillispie is indeed innocent of these charges and that they are the result of some disgruntled former players.  But the history of Mr. Gillispie is not conducive to his exoneration

Gillispie had success at Texas-El Paso and Texas A&M before being hired by Kentucky in 2007. He went 40-27 over two seasons with the Wildcats, who during his tenure missed the N.C.A.A. tournament for the first time in 17 years. He also clashed with Kentucky fans. On several occasions, Gillispie did not accommodate or acknowledge them, keeping them at a distance to help keep his team focused.

He has also had trouble with the law. Gillispie was arrested on drunken-driving charges three times in 10 years. Five months after being fired by Kentucky, he pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated.

Gillispie was out of basketball for two years until Hocutt hired him. The Red Raiders went 8-23 last season and 1-17 in the Big 12. Gillispie also had problems off the court. He lost more than $2 million in aPonzi scheme involving the former Georgia football coach Jim Donnan. 

Exactly why a person with this background would even be considered for a critical position involving young men and sports cannot be answered except to say that the prospect of a big time coach, with big time revenue from basketball trumps the welfare of the student/athletes.  Really, what parent wants their child to be coached and mentored by a person with a history of drunk driving convictions.

As for Texas Tech, well this is not their first problem with high profile coaches.

This is the second time in four years that Texas Tech has responded to allegations of coaching misconduct. In 2009, Texas Tech fired Mike Leach as its football coach after Leach was accused of mistreating a player who had sustained a concussion. The player, Adam James, the son of the former ESPN announcer Craig James, said Leach isolated him in an equipment garage during practice. Leach denied that.

The University has a mission statement,

Texas Tech University Mission Statement

As a public research university, Texas Tech advances knowledge through innovative and creative teaching, research, and scholarship. The university is dedicated to student success by preparing learners to be ethical leaders for a diverse and globally competitive workforce. The university is committed to enhancing the cultural and economic development of the state, nation, and world.*

*Approved by the Texas Tech University Board of Regents on May 14, 2010

And so maybe, just maybe the athletic department ought to read it, particularly that part about ‘ethical leaders’.  Yeah, especially that part.

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