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Extra Edition

KENTUCKY KERNEL

SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2009

CELEBRATING 38 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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Goodbye, Gillispie Who’s next? Since Gillispie is gone, someone else will be the new head coach at UK. The Kernel takes a look at the top five coaches who will likely fill those blue shoes.

1

Barnhart: Coach fired because of lack of ‘chemistry,’ understanding

Billy Donovan

Donovan, head coach at Florida and a former UK assistant under Rick Pitino, will likely be the first choice of many UK fans. Conflicting reports swirled on Friday, with some Florida news outlets reporting Donovan will resign and join Kentucky. In an e-mail to the Kernel, Donovan said he was committed to building his program at Florida. After former head coach Tubby Smith’s departure in 2007, Donovan reportedly turned down the job. Odds: 3-1

2

PHOTO BY ALLIE GARZA | STAFF

John Calipari

Calipari, head coach at Memphis, has a strong résumé, including a National Championship appearance in 2008, and should merit serious consideration. He has twice won the Naismith National Coach of the Year award and went to the Final Four in 1996 before a brief stint in the NBA. He’s a strong recruiter with an exciting style of play, but recruiting violations from his time as head coach of Massachusetts could detract from his chances. Messages left for Memphis’ athletic department were not immediately returned. Odds: 5-1

3

Travis Ford

Ford, head coach at Oklahoma State, is a former UK standout who knows the atmosphere surrounding the program. In his first season as coach of the Cowboys, he guided them to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Several pundits believe Ford would take the job if offered. Ford was recruiting Friday and unavailable for comment. Odds: 6-1

Former UK head coach Billy Gillispie leaves the Wildcat Lodge on Friday afternoon, shortly after a meeting with the men’s basketball team. Gillispie, surrounded by media, evaded interviews by exiting the back of the lodge, making his way to the Joe Craft Center to clean out his office and leave for the evening.

By Bobby Reagan breagan@kykernel.com

The chemistry just wasn’t right. That was what UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said about UK and its former men’s basketball head coach Billy Gillispie, who will not be brought back after two years in Lexington. See Gillispie on page 4

PHOTO BY BRAD LUTTRELL | STAFF

Billy Gillispie’s staff loads his vehicle in the rain in front of the Joe Craft Center on Friday afternoon. The coaching staff said they had until 5 p.m. to clean out their offices.

This is not a place I thought we would be in or where I want to be. I’d like to thank Coach Gillispie ... but we have decided not to bring him back.” — Mitch Barnhart, UK athletic director on firing Gillispie

Players speak out

4

Meeks supports department’s decision, unsure about future

Tom Izzo

Izzo, head coach at Michigan State, is an established coach who won the 2000 NCAA Championship. The Spartans have been to four of the last 11 Final Fours under his watch. It would be surprising if Izzo left the program he’s built in East Lansing, Mich., but it would also be surprising if UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart didn’t at least make an inquiry. Odds: 10-1

5

Herb Sendek

Sendek, head coach at Arizona State, is a former UK assistant under Pitino in the early ‘90s. He is known for coaching fast-paced teams with strong zone defenses, two characteristics UK fans value. Odds: 12-1

First issue free. Subsequent issues 25 cents.

By Metz Camfield mcamfield@kykernel.com

Friday, March 27, will be a day that goes down in the UK basketball history books. As players and coaches arrived and exited the Wildcat Lodge in the cold, dreary rain, the news was obvious, but the emotions and feelings of the news were not. “He’s a hard working coach and I have a lot of respect for him, but a decision was made, it was out of our hands,” junior Jodie Meeks said in an exclusive interview with the Kernel. “... I think the final decision was a good decision and I wish him luck.” Emotions varied with the news of Gillispie’s firing. The players heard about the firing on Friday just like everybody else, Meeks said. Gillispie visited the Wildcat Lodge before the news conference from Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart and President Lee Todd, announcing his dismissal.

New hire will know what not to do

Outside the Lodge, sophomore Patrick Patterson walked around with his headphones in his ears and a skip to his step. When asked who the coach of Kentucky was, he responded, no one at the moment, with a smirk on his face. Junior Matt Scherbenske had a solemn look on his face, while assistant coach Jeremy Cox had tears in his eyes. “Yeah, it was emotional,” Scherbenske said. “Everybody was emotional.” Meeks sat on a bench at the Johnson Center basketball courts Friday evening, watching students play the game the state holds so dear to its collective heart. Meeks’ voice was relaxed and he appeared content with the decision, but most of all he seemed at ease. For Meeks, 2009 was a career year. After a freshman year that saw glimpses of potential and an injury-riddled sophomore campaign, Meeks’ junior year was exactly what the doctor ordered. He finished the year with a scoring average of 23.7 points per game, and had the highest scoring performance of any game in the 106-year

Two years ago Billy Gillispie was a savior. Now, he’s a sinner whose career went to hell. UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart and President Lee Todd tried to break the news about their breakup to the world while taking responsibility for the bad hire. Todd stressed finding the right person for the job. Barnhart said he had no regrets about hiring Gillispie, but Barnhart also didn’t think he’d be firing a coach he just hired two KENNY years ago. COLSTON “This is not a place I thought Kernel we’d be or want to be at this columnist time,” Barnhart said at a Friday afternoon news conference announcing Gillispie’s firing. It wasn’t a place many fans or media expected to be in either. “We firmly believe in moving in a different direction at this time,” Barnhart said. And so they did. With Gillispie gone and the new search beginning, it’s time to look ahead and spare us another Billy Gillispie Project. Let’s make him Exhibit A

See Players on page 4

See Colston on page 4 Newsroom: 257-1915; Advertising: 257-2872


PAGE 2 | Saturday, March 28, 2009

31 years of basketball for Billy Gillispie March 27, 2009 Dismissed as the head coach of the UK men’s basketball team

March 25, 2009 UK loses 77-67 at Notre Dame in the NIT quarterfinals, finishing 22-14 in the season

March 17, 2009 In the NIT, UK beats UNLV 70-60 in the first “real” game in Memorial Coliseum since 1976

March 15, 2009 The UK men’s basketball team does not receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991

Jan. 27, 2009 Clashes with ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards during an interview before halftime of UK’s 85-80 loss at Ole Miss

March 11, 2008 Named Southeastern Conference Co-Coach of the Year for his 200708 season at UK

Feb. 22, 2008 Appears at DanceBlue and donates $10,000 to the fundraiser to help fight cancer

April 6, 2007 Named the sixth basketball coach at UK since 1931

2007 Texas A&M makes it to the Sweet Sixteen, defeating Louisville and Rick Pitino in Rupp Arena in the second round of the NCAA Tournament

2006 Leads Texas A&M to its first NCAA Tournament in 19 years with a 22-9 record

2005 Leads Texas A&M to a 21-10 and 8-8 record in the Big 12. He is again named a National Coach of the Year finalist

March 2004 Accepts the head coaching position at Texas A&M, taking over after a 7-21 season where the Aggies were winless in the Big 12

2004 Leads UTEP to a Western Athletic Conference Championship, the school’s first in 12 years. He is named a National Coach of the Year finalist

2002 Lands his first Division I head coaching job at Texas-El Paso

2000 Follows Bill Self to Illinois where the Illini won back-to-back Big Ten titles for the first time in 50 years

1997 Joins Bill Self’s Tulsa staff as an assistant. In 2000, the team reaches the Elite Eight and finishes the season ranked No. 9

1996 Gillispie’s recruiting class ranks as high as sixth in the nation

1994 1993 Becomes assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at South Plains Junior College

Makes the jump to Division I at Baylor as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator

1990 1988

Becomes head coach at Killen (Texas) Ellison High School

Becomes head coach at New Braunfels (Texas) Canyon High School

1987 1985

Becomes head coach at Copperas Cove (Texas) High School

Becomes assistant coach at Killeen (Texas) High School

1982 1980 Transfers to Sam Houston State to become a student assistant for the basketball team

Joins Texas State coaching staff as a graduate assistant

1978 Plays basketball at Ranger College

New coach will race UNC for 2,000 wins Eight wins are all that separates NCAA all-time wins leader UK (1,988) from the school with the second most wins, the University of North Carolina (1,980), as of press time. With North Carolina slated to play as many as four more games in the NCAA tournament, that margin could be cut in half by the time UK JON hires its next head HALE coach. Kernel The stage is set for columnist the new hire to race North Carolina to 2,000 wins. The Cats are 12 wins shy of becoming the first program to reach that mark. North Carolina will be anywhere from 16 to 20 wins shy going into next season. Whoever UK hires as its next coach will already inherit one of the most historical programs in college basketball, but will also face the race toward 2,000 wins added to the normal level of historical pressure. With the milestone looming, the next head coach of UK will have a chance to write his legacy early in his tenure. Will he be the coach who puts UK over 2,000 or will he be the coach who watched North Carolina pass the Cats by? “Coach (Adolph) Rupp started something that is now bigger than any one person,” UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said. “Coaches, players and administrators get the privilege of serving the program simply as caretakers for a brief moment in history.” Barnhart’s words are telling. The common theme of Friday’s news conference wasn’t about wins and losses; it was about tradition and legacy. The next “caretaker” of the UK program will face an added pressure to live up to the Big Blue Nation’s lofty standards. Only one UK coach since the Rupp era has left UK with a winning percentage less than 60 percent. That coach was Billy Gillispie (59.7), and we all know his tenure didn’t end happily. Two-year stints aren’t the norm for a UK coach. Rupp was at UK for 41 years and Joe B. Hall was there for 13. Eddie Sutton left amidst rules violations after four seasons. Rick Pitino was at UK for eight years, and Tubby Smith was here for 10 years. The new coach will look to rebound from UK’s first non-NCAA tournament

season since 1991, an 11-season Final Four drought and a four-year Southeastern Conference championship drought. The new coach will face a rabid fan base fresh off two coaching dramas in three years. A deep-run into the NCAA tournament from archrival Louisville won’t help matters either. “It is my responsibility to ensure that the University of Kentucky continues to be a special place in the hearts and minds of our fans across the nation, and that the right pieces are in place to return the basketball program to a championship level and continue those proud traditions of success,” Barnhart said. Barnhart and UK President Lee Todd spoke of differing opinions between the UK administration and Gillispie in what the UK coaching job entailed. Gillispie thought the job was about recruiting and wins and losses; UK thought the coach had to be an ambassador as well.

As UK marches toward 2,000 wins, the ambassador feature of the coaching job will become that much more important. Gillispie wasn’t up to that job in the UK’s administration’s opinion. The next coach will not face similar confusion regarding the job description. UK’s head coaching job is about wins and losses, it’s about recruiting, but it also is about being an ambassador for the athletic department, the university and the state. As UK marches toward 2,000 wins, the ambassador feature of the coaching job will become that much more important. Gillispie wasn’t up to that job in the UK administration’s opinion. The next coach will have to win the race toward 2,000. The next coach will have to recruit to fill UK’s roster with players worthy to continue the Cats’ historic legacy. And with no confusion remaining regarding the public persona of the UK coach, the next coach will have to present himself in a manner fitting the historical importance of the UK program. Whoever UK chooses will know UK’s place in history is just that important. Jon Hale is a journalism senior. Email jhale@kykernel.com.


Saturday, March 28, 2009 | PAGE 3

Correct decision

Jeff Biddle, left, and Jeff Walsh watch as UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart discusses the dismissal of former UK head coach Billy Gillispie on Friday afternoon at Pazzo’s Pizza Pub.

Former coach, player agree with Gillispie’s release By Bobby Reagan breagan@kykernel.com

It may not have been enough time to get the job done, but at this point, something had to give. Former UK head coach Joe B. Hall and former player Kenny Walker both agreed with the decision to not bring back Billy Gillispie as head coach. However, both said they could see either side of the argument. “It’s unfortunate,” Walker said. “I don’t agree that two years is enough time to coach, but the administration saw they needed a change and did it.” Both also agreed with Barnhart’s statements of needing a coach who understands the importance of the job along with everything that comes with it. Walker said being the head coach at UK makes you more famous than UK’s president, as well as the governor of the state. Hall, who served that position from 1973-1985 and won an NCAA Championship in 1978, said in order to be successful — and survive — in Lexington, the next coach needs to fully understand what it means to be the UK head coach. “It is important to understand what the coaching job at UK entails for two reasons,” Hall said. “One, in order to survive you have to understand what the program is, and two, you have to take the responsibility in bringing up the program. It’s all part of the job.” Part of understanding the program is knowing what to expect from the fan base, which Hall calls protectors of the program. He said while UK has one of the best fan bases in the country, they are also demanding and want to win right away. “It is just an overwhelming amount of pressure, even more so than when I was coach here,” Hall said. “It’s very hard to keep everyone happy all the time.” One of the things that did not keep Big Blue Nation happy during Gillispie’s tenure was his obvious strain with the media. Walker said the next coach has to be ready to shake hands and take pictures with everyone. Hall said he could never really analyze what Gillispie did from a coaching standpoint, but knew he was Coach of the Year in the Big 12 and Co-Coach of the Year in the Southeastern Conference, believes whoever takes over next year just needs to know the expectations to make the fans happy. “The UK program is built on good foundation with a tremendous tradition,” Hall said. “We have the prestige to bring in the top recruits. But we also have the prestige that the fans know and you have to know what their expectations are.”

PHOTO BY EVERETT MCMILLEN CISLO STAFF

Hall

It’s always easier to withstand the pressure when you’re winning.” — Joe B. Hall, former UK basketball head

coach on the pressures of coaching at UK

By Metz Camfield mcamfield@kykernel.com

Barnhart

I don’t regret hiring Billy to be the basketball coach. He’s a good basketball coach, but sometimes it’s just not the right fit.” — Mitch Barnhart, UK athletic director

on hiring Billy Gillispie

Walker

The coach at Kentucky is more popular than the UK president and possibly the governor.” — Kenny Walker, former player on

expectations for UK’s head coach

Orton, current players unsure of their future By BW Jones bjones@kykernel.com

The departure of UK head coach Billy Gillispie answers one question about who won’t be found on the UK bench next season, but raises several others. With a highprofile recruiting class on the way and a pair of potential NBA players on the roster, the team may not have seen the last of the changes to next season’s projected squad. Larry Orton, father of five-star UK commit Daniel Orton, said UK Athletics had contacted the Orton family and advised them to wait before making any decision. Larry said Daniel did not wish to speak with reporters about Gillispie’s situation or the possibility of reopening his recruitment. Orton said the family was “just waiting to see what happens.” Larry Orton did say Gillispie was a major reason why his son committed to UK. “It was a big factor,” the elder Orton said in a phone interview. Several schools with head coaches rumored to be candidates for the UK opening, including Oklahoma State’s Travis Ford and Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel, once courted Daniel to play for their respective teams. Larry Orton was unsure whether any particular coach could sway Daniel’s choice to remain committed to UK. Questions also surround junior Jodie Meeks and sophomore Patrick Patterson. Both are projected as NBA draft picks if they decide to forgo their remaining eligibility. In an exclusive interview with the

Mixed emotions flood Big Blue Nation

Kernel, Meeks said he would have to wait and see who the new coach is before deciding about his future at UK. “Right now I’m not really worried about that, I’m just worried about taking some time off, just to clear my mind and figure out what I’m going to do,” Meeks said. “I’m not really sure what I’m going to do yet. I’ll see who the new coach is and talk to him and go from there.” Meeks said he hadn’t heard of any possible coaching candidates, and he only had a few requirements for the next coach. “I’m not a picky person,” Meeks said. “As long as he’s good for this program and this team I’m fine with it.” Meeks said while he hadn’t yet reached out to any recruits, he would likely speak with any who attend during the summer session for classes. While Patterson didn’t speak with reporters about his future at UK on Friday, he did say he planned to stay for his junior year after UK’s win over Mississippi in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. “I’ll sit down with my coaches and parents after the season to talk about everything,” Patterson said on March 12. “My mindset is to return right now. It just depends on how I finish the year, what my projected draft selection is and how far the team advances.” Attempts to reach Meeks’ and Patterson’s families for comment were unsuccessful on Friday. Attempts to reach fourstar recruit Jon Hood or his family members for comment were also unsuccessful. Messages left for recruiting experts were not immediately returned.

The climax to a tumultuous week of swirling rumors, mixed reports and uncertainty finally arrived. The aftermath now leaves the Big Blue Nation divided in their opinion of former UK head basketball coach Billy Gillsipie’s brief twoyear tenure in Lexington. “It’s a shock I think for everybody,” first year graduate student Caleb Churchill said. “I’m just glad it’s over now and we can move on” Churchill, a native of Columbus, Ind., and a UK fan from birth, said two years did seem brief but also acknowledged that as a fan he doesn’t know everything that goes on behind the scenes. Churchill said because of that it’s tough to say whether the firing of Gillispie was premature or not. “It’s frustrating; it’s sad. I think Gillispie is going to be successful wherever he goes. He’s a great coach, but I guess he just wasn’t the best fit,” Churchill said. “As a Kentucky coach, not only are they an ambassador, but really the ambassador of the university. They get more publicity than probably anybody at the entire university.” Not all Cats fans believed Gillispie’s fit at UK was the reason for his dismissal. Trevor Prater, a computer science sophomore, believes the exit of the Abilene, Texas, native was due to his coaching performance on the basketball court. “He obviously wasn’t sufficient enough as a coach; I think it’s for the best,” Prater said. “I think it really all comes down to wins and losses. It’s a

good way to fire him I guess, (using his public relations struggles) is a good cop out.” After a streak of only four different head coaches to walk the UK sidelines in 66 years, Cats fans will now welcome in their third head coach in only a dozen years. UK fans, regarded by many as some of the most passionate in all of college basketball, said they realize the pressures of coaching at UK with the rabid fan base. “The sports culture now is, ‘what have you done for me lately?’ ’’ kinesiology junior Robbie Butler said. “And what he’s done for us lately is get us to the second or third round of the NIT, which is garbage by UK standards.” With Gillispie’s reign as the head coach for the Cats now over, fans’ attention immediately turned to the future and the possible successors. Opinions varied again on whom the top choice was, ranging from Billy Donovan to John Calipari to Bob Knight, but the name of the former UK assistant coach and current Florida head coach, Donovan, stood out above the rest. One quality recognized by the fans was the need for a head coach who can get the job done on and off the court. UK fans said the responsibility of the head coach at UK is greater than many other schools because the fans, as Churchill said, “bleed basketball.” “It’s not something that necessarily is just going to change overnight,” Churchill said in regards to the future of the program. “I think Kentucky will get back to where we want it to be, but it may be a long and difficult process getting there.”


PAGE 4 | Saturday, March 28, 2009

Who’s left?

GILLISPIE

If those top five candidates all shun the Cats, the scramble for a replacement will toughen. Here are the remaining coaches:

6

Jay Wright

Wright, head coach at Villanova, reportedly turned down the opening in 2007 after Smith’s departure. The Villanova Wildcats are still in the NCAA Tournament, so it’s unlikely Wright would speak to Barnhart anytime soon. Still, his guard-oriented teams and salesman approach to coaching would fit well in Lexington. Odds: 15-1

7

Sean Miller

Miller, head coach at Xavier, may be waiting for the head-coaching job at Pittsburgh to open up because he played for the Panthers. The Musketeers have been to the NCAA Tournament each of the last four years and advanced to the Elite Eight in 2008. Miller’s contract at Xavier, which goes through the 2015-16 season, could present an interesting hurdle for any school courting him. Odds: 20-1

8

Thad Matta

Matta, head coach at Ohio State, is a tenacious recruiter best known for guiding the Buckeyes to the NCAA Championship game in 2007, where his freshman-laden team lost to Florida. Ohio State has one of the strongest athletic departments in the nation and would likely do whatever they could to keep him, but the draw of coaching Kentucky might be enough to pull him away from football-crazy Columbus, Ohio. Odds: 30-1

9

Darrin Horn

Horn, head coach at South Carolina, is a Lexington native who rebuilt the Western Kentucky basketball program before joining the Gamecocks this season. His local ties and success against the Cats in his first year in Columbia, S.C., make him an intriguing candidate, but his résumé may not be strong enough. He has only one NCAA appearance. Odds: 40-1

Quick facts

Continued from page 1 “This is not a place I thought we would be in or where I want to be,” Barnhart said during a Friday news conference. “I’d like to thank Coach Gillispie and his staff for their two years here ... but we have decided not to bring him back.” During Barnhart’s opening comments he talked about the tradition of UK and what the program meant to the fan base — saying it is something that determines when weddings are held. Barnhart put it on himself to get UK back to that. “It’s my responsibility and I don’t regret hiring Billy to be the basketball coach,” Barnhart said. “He’s a good basketball coach, but sometimes it’s just not the right fit and that’s my responsibility.” The correct piece to the puzzle — the successor to Gillispie — has not been decided on, Barnhart said. He does not expect to host any interviews over the next 72 hours but did say the search process will begin this weekend. The heaviest rumor on the Internet has been Florida head coach Billy Donovan accepting the job. Donovan, an assistant coach for the Cats from 1989-94 under Rick Pitino, was a candidate for UK’s job two years ago. However, Donovan released a statement saying he was not interested in leaving Florida for any job. “In response to the rumors circu-

 Gillispie’s career coaching record is 140-85  His record at UK is: 40-27 (20-12 SEC)  In the SEC Tournament he is 1-2  In the NCAA Tournament, his record is 3-4 (0-1 at UK) lating about my interest in other jobs, I wanted to address this as quickly as possible. I am committed to the University of Florida and look forward to continuing to build our program here,” Donovan said in the statement. Gillispie went 40-27 during his two years at UK, but Barnhart and UK President Lee Todd said it was more than just wins and losses that went into the release of Gillispie. To them, the most important part was realizing UK isn’t just another job and how special it is to coach at UK. “There was a lack of understanding that this job is more than games and recruiting,” Todd said. “You have to be an ambassador to this program and university.” While acknowledging the criticism he has faced over the last couple of months, Barnhart also talked about his responsibility to return UK to a national championship caliber. “Coach Rupp started something that is now bigger than any one person. Coaches, players and administrators get the privilege of serving this

COLSTON Continued from page 1 on what not to do as coach. Barnhart and Todd said the fans deserve someone who understands the entire scope of what comes with the job title of head coach of men’s basketball and they’re right. Gillispie was the absolute opposite of the UK mold. He was stubborn, treated the fans as ignorant and thought of the media as worthless commentary. That’s a quick way to earn a pink slip. Two years ago, Barnhart seemed to rush to get Gillispie after public rejections from Billy Donovan and Rick Barnes. Maybe at a different time, Gillispie would have fit at UK. But after following a coach with character like Tubby Smith, the contrast is stark. Barnhart may have made his first wrong hire as AD, but it isn’t the end of the world. UK can easily repair this. Throughout the news conference, the point stressed the most was that Gillispie’s apparent refusal to be more than just a coach cost him his job. But everyone knows the microscope that you have as head coach of the Cats. Joe B. Hall, Eddie Sutton, Rick Pitino and Smith all knew. Donovan, Tom Izzo, Herb Sendek or whoever the next UK head coach is will have to understand. (If you want a real tip, I say Donovan, Travis Ford, Sean Miller of Xavier and Sendek are the four likely candidates). The losses obviously didn’t help. Winning more games might have given Gillispie another year, but maybe not even that long. He was a self-pro-

PLAYERS

10

Continued from page 1

John Pelphrey

Pelphrey, head coach at Arkansas, is an ‘unforgettable’ UK alum who led the Razorbacks to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. His young team made serious noise early in the season when they upset Oklahoma and Texas before going a disappointing 2-14 in Southeastern Conference play. Still, if all else fails, it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t be a candidate. Odds: 50-1

history of the program when he scored 54 points in Knoxville, Tenn., against the Volunteers. With the season now over following a 77-67 loss to Notre Dame in the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals, Meeks said he still isn’t sure whether he will return to UK or enter the NBA Draft. He also said he wasn’t really concerned with who the next coach will be. “Right now I’m not really worried about that, I’m just worried about taking

 In Gillispie’s first year at UK, the team finished 18-13 and was eliminated in the NCAA Tournament’s first round for the first time since 1987  In 2008, he was named the SEC Co-Coach of the Year program simply as caretakers for a brief moment in its history,” Barnhart said. “It is my responsibility to ensure that the University of Kentucky continues to be a special place in the hearts and minds of our fans across the nation, and that the right pieces are in place to return the basketball program to a championship level and continue those proud traditions of success.” Barnhart believed he made the right decision to return UK to a championship level two years ago and said he does not regret hiring Gillispie as head coach — despite not making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991. While trying to find the next head coach, Barnhart and Todd also expect to meet soon with Gillispie’s lawyers to talk about a settlement program. While it was rumored to be in the six million dollar range, Todd said he expects the settlement to be less. “We’ll be in contact with Billy’s legal counsel to agree on a settlement,” Todd said. “I expect it to be less than $6 million because the memorandum is a one-year contract.”

claimed stubborn coach who has been facing an administration that wasn’t going to budge on the fact that they were certain they chose the wrong guy. And if you want to know exactly what that means, Todd will explain. “It was a lack of understanding that this is a complete job,” Todd said. “It requires more than coaching and recruiting. We need someone who represents the entire Big Blue Nation.” Gillispie burned that bridge by claiming he wasn’t an ambassador for the university at the Southeastern Conference Tournament, although his stubbornness is very similar to the fan base. So now UK is back at square one two years after the Billy Gillispie Project. This one didn’t work out, so now Barnhart will search for a coach who knows that three-fourths of the battle at UK is winning over the fans and the media. Winning games is a very important part and losing too many will get you run off (re: Tubby Smith), but you’ll have more time to pack your things than Gillispie and his staff were given. Not everyone is probably happy with the decision. One fan stood outside Memorial Coliseum with a sign that read “Fire the media, not Billy G.” By the time this hits newsstands, half the coaches associated with the new opening will have denied any given number of reports. Others will privately lobby for the job and more will deny the job and still be considered the top candidate (looking at you Donovan). But if UK’s eventual new hire wants any tips, I’ve got a good one for you — look at what Gillispie did ... and do the opposite. Kenny Colston is a journalism junior. E-mail kcolston@kykernel.com. some time off just to clear my mind and figure out what I’m going to do,” Meeks said. “I’ll see who the new coach is and talk to him and go from there.” UK now faces its second coaching search in three years, and high-profile names are abound. No matter who the next coach is to walk the sidelines of Rupp Arena and become one of the most high-profiled people in the state of Kentucky, the belief is a need to move forward. “I’m going to agree with whatever the staff decides, and they decided for the change, and I’m all with what they decided,” Meeks said. “We’re going to have to move forward.”

UK attempts to settle contract UK will try to pay less than the $6 million discussed when former head coach Billy Gillispie took the job two years ago, top university officials said Friday. UK President Lee Todd said the “memorandum of understanding” signed by Gillispie in April 2007 was a “year-to-year contract” during a news conference Friday announcing a coaching change for the men’s basketball team. According to the memorandum, in case of termination without cause, Gillispie would be owed $1.5 million for the remainder of the term of the contract for a maximum of four years. The memorandum also states the document will be expanded and incorporated into an employment contract “at the earliest possible date.” A mutually agreed upon “termination with cause” provision would also be determined in the contract. The employment contract was never created, Todd said, and UK had what it considered a one-year contract. “At that point in time, we had what we needed,” he said. “If we couldn’t get through the contract, we would live with the memorandum yearto-year.” UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, who made the coaching change announcement with Todd on Friday, said the agreement would be less than $6 million. “We’ll be in contact with Billy’s counsel to get a fair separation agreement,” he said. Gillispie has not commented publicly on the coaching change or his buyout as of Friday night. — JILL LASTER

TRAVELING MEN When a job like the UK’s men’s basketball coach opens up, it creates a whirlwind effect on the rest of the coaches across the nation. That was seen two years ago when Tubby Smith left. Now with Billy Gillispie fired, some of the top names in college basketball are rumored to be filling his shoes at UK. If that happens, then dozens of small school coaches will be chomping at the bit to fill those spots. See the trend here? That’s why the Kernel took its best guess at who may fill in for some of the coaches rumored to be at the top of UK’s list. With Anthony Grant accepting the Alabama job Friday night, things could get murky, but if Billy Donovan bolts, Grant could still be the new head coach at Florida. Odder things have happened. Some of the lower school candidates are also on the short list for UK. But we’re guessing UK gets one of the rumored top four on its list. Even if we’re completely wrong, don’t point any fingers. Figuring this stuff out is harder than a sudoku. Instead, marvel at the frewww.kykernel.com Interactive coaches carousel, more quent flier miles some of photos and video these coaches will be racking up pretty soon.

Bruce Weber, Illinois Head Coach

Tom Izzo,

MSU Head Coach

Brad Stevens,

Butler Head Coach

Travis Ford,

OSU Head Coach

Sean Miller,

Anthony Grant,

Xavier Head Coach

VCU Head Coach

John Calipari,

Memphis Head Coach

online

Billy Donovan,

Flordia Head Coach

— KENNY COLSTON

GRAPHIC BY JUSTIN LINNE | STAFF


Gillispie Special Edition  

Special Saturday edition of the Kernel produced when UK Men's basketball coach Billy Gillispie left his position.

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