Kentucky fires Gillispie after two years
Kentucky announced at a 4:30 p.m. press conference that it has fired coach Billy Gillispie after two years at the helm, reports SI.com's Seth Davis.
School officials had been quiet about Gillispie's job status after the Wildcats tumbled through the second half of the season to finish 22-14, tied for the second-most losses in the program's 106-year history.
Kentucky made the N.I.T. this season, losing 77-67 to Notre Dame in the quarterfinals on Wednesday -- which ended up as the last game Gillispie ever coached for the Wildcats.
Gillispie was 40-27 two seasons into a seven-year deal with Kentucky that pays him a base salary of $2.3 million annually. Averaging 20 wins a year is respectable at most places, but he acknowledged earlier this week that most places, however, aren't the home of college basketball's all-time winningest program. "A lot of teams would be happy with 22 [wins] but not always around here when it's not the right 22," Gillispie said during his radio show.
During the press conference, athletic director Mitch Barnhart said that the buyout was still being negotiated -- Gillispie's buyout was expected be around $6 million, but he had been under a memorandum of understanding, having never finalized a contract with Kentucky, which Barnhart noted was a sign of a trouble.
Barnhart also deflected blame for the quick firing of Gillispie, saying the athletic department has exhibited patience in the past, pointing at football coach Rich Brooks's rocky start and subsequent success. "It wasn't about winning and losing, it was about [having the] right chemistry," Barnhart said.