Ex-Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie retiring, citing health issues

RANGER, Texas (AP) — Former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie retired Wednesday, citing health concerns as he stepped aside as coach at a Texas junior college.

The 57-year-old Gillispie said in a text message to The Dallas Morning News that he’s been battling high blood pressure since the summer. The former Texas A&M and Texas Tech coach said he is following the advice of doctors by leaving early in his second season at Ranger College.

Gillispie was a rising star in the coaching profession after quick rebuilding jobs at UTEP and Texas A&M, leading to the Kentucky job in 2007.

He was fired after two seasons when the Wildcats missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 17 years. The West Texas native took the Texas Tech job following a two-year hiatus that included a stint at John Lucas’ substance-abuse program in Houston following Gillispie’s third arrest for drunken driving in 10 years.

The Red Raiders won just one Big 12 game in Gillispie’s only season, and he resigned shortly before the start of his second season, citing health concerns amid allegations of player mistreatment. Texas Tech later admitted to violations of practice rules under Gillispie.

Ranger went 31–7 in Gillispie’s only full season, reaching the national junior college tournament before forfeiting all the wins because of an ineligible player.

“Timing isn’t great, but I’ve decided to do what I was told and try to return to healthy ASAP,” Gillispie said. “I’ve had a wonderful career and in the last two years some of the best days I’ve ever experienced as a coach. I hate leaving this team because they are really coming around, but they understood me being sick.”

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