After a week of calm on the Texas A&M Basketball front, it appears that Billy Gillispie is headed to Kentucky.
Kentucky will hold a press conference this morning at 11:45 CST to introduce Gillispie as the new head coach of the Wildcats. A prep rally for fans will kickoff the announcement at 11:15 at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky.
As an Aggie, I am truly saddened by this (I honestly felt sick when I read that Bill Byrne had granted permission for Kentucky to talk to Gillispie last night). I truly don’t fault him for leaving, as I do understand that Gillispie is moving on to a more storied tradition. However, maybe he shouldn’t have been so adamant about staying just a week ago:
“While itâ€™s embarrassing to me to be compensated so well to perform my passion for a school I love, I am sincerely appreciative of the efforts of Bill Byrne, our university administration, the board of regents and everyone associated with Texas A&M for their personal support they continue to show. We will continue to do our best to try and make the Texas A&M family proud.”
I realize he never said “I won’t ever leave” or,”I’m definitely staying another year”, but it’s a bit ridiculous to say something like that, then leave a week later and never sign the contract you were discussing.
I just hope Bill Byrne is able find the right guy, just as he did last time. I’m confident that he has kept his short list up to date, and will make the right move.
As for Billy Gillispie… Am I happy for you? Certainly, and I don’t blame you for leaving. Will I ever root for you at Kentucky? Nope.
P.S. I remember the first time I heard Gillispie speak. It was at an event at our local A&M club in Austin. I remember thinking I was a bit uneasy about him, and he seemed a bit too slick (This was before he had ever coached a game for the Aggies). The folks I shared this with dismissed it, and after he started winning, I dismissed it as well. It’s amazing how accurate a first impression can really be.
Update (2007-04-06 2:02 pm):
Josh Carter, who will be a junior next season, is at home in Dallas for Easter weekend. He said he first heard the news on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
“I understand, but he always talked to us about being adults and being men, and you would think as a man he would have called his players and talked to us about it,” Carter said. “I totally understand why he took the job and that Kentucky is a better basketball school and a better place to be, but he’s still our coach and I want him to be here. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m upset about it.”
The article also mentions that Gillispie text messaged with some players and called Joseph Jones this morning. For what it’s worth, Joseph Jones is happy for him.