Gillispie drawing support, opposition among players and coaches

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Updated: 9/11/2012 5:35 am
It might be a good thing that college football is back in full force because it's obscuring some nasty press regarding the Texas Tech men's basketball program.

Head Coach Billy Gillispie is caught in whirlwind stirred up by allegations of player mistreatment, a six-day stay in the hospital, plenty of unflattering media attention, and now, highly questionable job security.

Over the last two weeks, several players have told media outlets that they no longer want to play for the coach. They've complained of excessive practice lengths that violated NCAA rules, sometimes by double. One session was described as going so long that several players became injured, including one who reportedly suffered stress fractures in both legs.

Complicating matters, Gillispie spent six days in the hospital and is now on medical leave. His condition has not been made public.

Last week Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt confirmed that, back in January, Gillispie was reprimanded for essentially the same grievances - mistreatment and excessive practice time.

He was told he'd be held to a "no tolerance" standard, that, if these latest allegations are true, has been violated.

The most recent and notable detractor is current player Jordan Tolbert, Tech's leading scorer, who told ESPN.com he does not want to play for Gillispie if he returns from medical leave.

 "Maybe I would for the assistants," Tolbert said. "I haven't put much thought into it. There is a big sense of urgency. I don't want to play for him if he comes back."

On the other side of the fence is former Red Raider Robert Lewandowski, who played for Gillispie last season. He told ESPN, "Coach Gillispie pushed me to my physical and mental limits, and I came out an improved person. I know I can handle anything that comes my way. The process wasn't very pretty, but isn't that how life usually is?"

And fellow coach and close friend Bill Self, head coach at the University of Kansas, said, "I considered him to be one of my closest friends for a long time. To have players who have only been in a program for a year or two and be such experts on what it takes to win and how to be treated is a little bit hard to grasp. Mistreatment of players should never occur, but there are also two sides to every story."

At least two other players, walk-on Luke Adams and highly-recruited Josh Gray, have each publicly voiced support for the coach.

Should Hocutt decide to fire Gillispie, he'll have to wait until the coach is back from medical leave.Federal law prohibits employees being fired while on medical leave.

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