The text message came late Tuesday -- a few minutes after CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman published more allegations of Billy Gillispie's mistreatment of players.
Goodman's story detailed, among other things, how the second-year Texas Tech coach once forced someone to practice despite the presence of a stress fracture that produced pain and brought the student-athlete to tears.
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"Can Billy survive?"
"I'd be surprised," are the words I typed back to the man who sent the message, and there's nothing that's happened in the past 12 hours to move me off that opinion. Gillispie is still apparently hospitalized with high blood pressure and mostly not talking. Multiple people who consider him a friend have told CBSSports.com that they've been unable to get him on the phone. I sent a text Wednesday morning seeking comment. He did not return it -- just like he hasn't returned several texts over the past six days from CBSSports.com senior writers.
But at some point Gillispie's medical issues will allow him to exit the University Medical Center in Lubbock, at which point he'll be forced to deal with this in some form … provided he isn't dealt with first. And that's really all that seems up for debate now -- whether Gillispie will be forced to resign his position before or after he leaves the hospital because his ever coaching Texas Tech again seems highly unlikely.
I mean, how could he?
His current players have gone to athletic director Kirby Hocutt with concerns about rules violations and mistreatment, meaning Gillispie has at best few (and at worst no) allies in what amounts to a mutiny. So who's going to save him? Probably nobody. Which is fine because if the allegations against Gillispie are true -- and there's no reason to believe they aren't -- then he's a man who didn't learn from his downfall at Kentucky and probably shouldn't be coaching college basketball anyway. It's one thing to be a jerk -- to renege on a job offer after the person you promised the opportunity to already quit his previous job, to threaten players into not using airplane tickets they purchased with their own money, to leave student-athletes in the dark for an unreasonable amount of time about whether they will have a scholarship next season. But it's quite another thing to be reckless with someone's body, which is what Gillispie did when he allegedly forced Kader Tapsoba to practice with a stress fracture.
"He was literally crying at practice," a source told CBSSports.com. "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. [But] he'd just ice him up and tell him to go practice."
That allegation is, quite simply, unacceptable.
Tapsoba, you see, wasn't crying during practice because he's a woman's body part, which is almost certainly what Gillispie thought considering sources have told CBSSports.com that he has been calling players who he believed to be soft exactly that for years. No, Tapsoba was crying because he was injured. Seriously injured. So injured that he didn't play at all last season. Combine that story with all the other stories, and how can the same school that fired Mike Leach keep Billy Gillispie?
More to the point, how can Texas Tech argue in a court of law that it wasn't wrong to fire Leach for allegedly mistreating a player if it doesn't now fire Gillispie for allegedly mistreating a player in what most would consider a more cruel and dangerous way?
So from a legal standpoint, Gillispie must go. But it's also the only practical next step for Texas Tech because you don't think every coach recruiting against Gillispie has already linked these stories and prepared to send them to prospects and their families? Trust me when I tell you they have. And what decent parent would send their child to play for somebody whose own players are tossing allegations like the allegations being tossed at Gillispie?
Bottom line, this is done.
And it's sad.
I've now watched Gillispie go from among the hottest coaching candidates in the nation to a toxic figure who seems unemployable. His downward spiral of a career featuring a pink slip after two years at Kentucky and multiple alcohol-related arrests would've humbled a normal person to the point where he'd never risk a second-chance job in his home state. But Gillispie got to Texas Tech and didn't change. In fact, he might've gotten worse. And barring a stand-by-your-man approach from the Texas Tech administration that would leave the school tarnished and possibly at risk legally, this is going to cost Gillispie his career.
Will he someday find another job in the business?
But that's not what he needs right now.
What Billy Gillispie needs right now is ... help.