More trouble for Gillispie as allegations of mistreatment surface

by | College Basketball Insider
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Billy Gillispie is alleged to have forced an injured player to practice, putting him in tears. (Getty Images)  
Billy Gillispie is alleged to have forced an injured player to practice, putting him in tears. (Getty Images)  

As Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie remains in a hospital room with his coaching career in jeopardy, allegations continue to surface about his mistreatment of players, coaches and others in the Red Raiders program.

Sources close to the Texas Tech program told CBSSports.com that Gillispie reneged on several promises to coaches, kept players in scholarship limbo, causing them to miss opportunities and money, and also practiced injured players so severely that they openly wept in practice.

Calls to both Gillispie and Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt have not been returned. According to a hospital spokesperson at the University Medical Center, Gillispie remained a patient as of Tuesday night. Gillispie's Tulsa-based attorney Stuart Campbell told CBSSports.com that he would attempt to contact his client when reached Tuesday afternoon, but he had no immediate comment on the allegations.

Fifteen players have already left the program prematurely since he took over in March of 2011, with the most recent being highly regarded recruit Wannah Bail, a native of the Bahamas who didn't return after the first summer school session. Bail's summer coach, Terrul Henderson, told CBSSports.com that Bail's departure had nothing to do with academics -- as had been speculated.

"It was because of Gillispie," a source close to the program said. "He couldn't deal with him."

More on Gillispie

Bail is just one of approximately 30 bodies that have turned over since Gillispie got the job. There was a lengthy list that bolted a year ago, shortly after Gillispie took over, including secretary Leslie Hartline, assistant coach Chris Beard, trainer John Murray, video coordinator Jason Imes, graduate assistants Sean McCurdy and Colby Huseman, student manager Cooper Schmidt and academic advisor Marlon Dechausay. That's not it, either. Gillispie has gone through a pair of strength coaches already and two directors of basketball operations.

Former Indiana guard Tom Coverdale quit his job at Tyler Junior College after being promised an assistant coaching spot under Gillispie. Just days before he was set to arrive, Gillispie told Coverdale the job was actually an assistant strength position that paid about half as much as the initial spot. Gillispie also promised former junior college coach Matt Eisele a job, according to numerous sources, but then pulled the offer. Renard Phillips spent three months out in Lubbock having virtually no idea of his job responsibilities, sources told CBSSports.com, before he left to take a high school job back in the D.C. area. Former assistant coach Jeff Kidder departed this past summer for a high school job in Kentucky. Multiple other coaches have told CBSSports.com that they have been led to believe they had a job offer from Gillispie, only to be led on through the process without a formal offer.

Former players have come out and told CBSSports.com that Gillispie broke NCAA rules by not adhering to practice limits. He once went eight hours in a single day. NCAA rules stipulate you can't practice more than four hours per day or 20 hours per week.

"We practiced a lot more than 20 hours a week," former guard Kevin Wagner told CBSSports.com.

"We used to go more than four hours all the time," added Jaron Nash, who transferred to North Dakota after last season. "I remember that day when we went almost all day. We didn't leave until 9 p.m. or so. It was pretty bad. A lot of guys were really hurt after it. One guy had a stress fracture in both legs."

One source identified that player as African native Kader Tapsoba, who did not play last season while dealing with multiple stress fractures.

"He was literally crying at practice," said the source, who was with the program last season. "He couldn't even run and Gillispie had him running up and down the steps at the arena. I remember the doctor getting the X-rays back and coming to practice and telling Gillispie it was really bad. He'd just ice him up and tell him to go practice."

"He shouldn't have been practicing," he added. "But he bullied everyone, including the trainer. He'd make the trainer make kids come back. Bodies were dropping like flies. One day I walked in and the whole team was in the training room. All the players and even the managers. He'd make them practice."

The team's star player, Jordan Tolbert, cut his hand on the rim one day last year in practice and suffered a four-inch gash across his fingers. The next day, according to one source, Gillispie had the trainer bandage his hand and then instructed Tolbert to dunk the ball every time he caught it.

Gillispie left two Canadian players, Ty Nurse and Dejan Kravic, in scholarship limbo this past summer. According to multiple sources, he wouldn't tell either one whether he was renewing their scholarships yet when they wanted to go home to Canada after summer school ended, he made it clear that if they left, they could not return. Both players had purchased flights home for about $1,000 and wound up having to absorb the cost in fear of not being able to return to Lubbock.

One source said that Gillispie, the night before most games, has everyone in attendance participate in layup lines at the start of practice -- including television and radio broadcasters, strength coaches and assistant coaches.

"If we fumbled the ball, slipped or shot it with the wrong hand, he'd make us run the steps of the arena," the source said. "He got a big kick out of it, but it was demeaning for us as grown men."

The current players have met with the administration and are fed up with Gillispie's antics. None will comment on the record in fear of having to deal with Gillispie in the future.

"It's been festering since last year," one source said of the current player revolt of sorts. "The players are tired of it."

Gillispie checked himself into an area hospital last Friday for what he told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal felt like a "stroke" or a "heart attack." He told the newspaper he has been dealing with stress of late and was listed in satisfactory condition over the weekend.

A university spokesman told CBSSports.com that the school is "aware and are looking into concerns within the leadership of our men's basketball program."

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