Last we left Billy Gillispie here at SbB, he had signed away as much as $3 million of his own money as part of “loan” agreement - at up to 65% annual interest! - with now-outed Ponzi schemer Jim Donnan.
The extent of Gillispie’s astonishing losses in the Donnan Ponzi, unreported in the media, came after Pablo Torre of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reported last month that Gillispie monetary loss in an alleged Ponzi involving a Houston businessman may have also reached well into seven figures.
It isn’t unreasonable to think that had those revelations surfaced before Gillispie was hired by Texas Tech in March to take over its basketball program, he may not have gotten the job. Though Gillispie’s lacking business acumen is most likely the last concern Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt and TT Chancellor Kent Hance has about Gillispie at the moment.
Since Gillispie was named Texas Tech coach four months ago, several basketball staffers have left the program. Included in those defections is well-respected Red Raider trainer Jon Murray, whose 13-year Tech tenure included the Bob and Pat Knight years.
Longtime Tech basketball secretary Leslie Hartline, whose TT athletic dept. career traversed the entire Knight era at Tech, also recently walked out on Gillispie. Though Texas Tech officials have since prevailed upon Hartline to stay on as an administrative assistant with the school’s fundraising Red Raider Club.
Gillispie is now on his third secretary since taking the Tech job four months ago.
While some may write off those defections, among others, as typical turnover due to a coaching change, the situation involving former Tech basketball assistant Chris Beard cannot be similarly ascribed.
Beard recently left the program after serving as a Tech basketball assistant for nine years under Bob and Pat Knight - and being retained by Gillispie. But two months after Gillispie officially announced that Beard would stay on, the assistant coach’s departure was suddenly, and quietly, announced by the school and Gillispie.
Chris Beard’s tenure on Billy Gillispie’s staff was a short one.
The Texas Tech men’s basketball assistant coach announced Thursday that he’s leaving his post to pursue other opportunities less than three months after being hired.
Beard was the associate head coach under former head coach Pat Knight, who was fired in March after three seasons. Billy Gillispie reinstated Beard on April 7, making him the first member of his staff.
Gillispie would only comment through a statement released by Texas Tech on Thursday evening.
“We hate to lose Chris,” Gillispie said in the statement. “He did a fantastic job and we appreciate the effort. He has been an important part of the program for several years and in the time we were together, it was obvious he has a great love for this university and this community.”
Beard could not be reached for comment.
“I’ve enjoyed and appreciate the opportunity to coach at Texas Tech University,” Beard said in a statement. “My family and I have equally enjoyed living in Lubbock. I wish Texas Tech nothing but the best.”
The Beard quote? He never said it. Tech made it up.
Beard left the program after multiple, heated altercations with the irascible and intractable Gillispie, the final of which was physically broken up by Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt.
That final conflict was a mediation of sorts after Beard had previously decided to leave the program because of Gillispie’s poor treatment of Tech employees, a former player and concern over Gillispie’s fast-and-loose recruiting tactics.
Remember, Beard was a guy who got along famously with Bob Knight throughout the notorious coach’s tenure and was a close confidante of Pat Knight as his top assistant. Gillispie was also a previous admirer of Beard, having tried to hire Beard at one of his previous coaching stops.
But the throwdown in front of Tech AD Hocutt was the final straw for Beard, who was cursed by Gillispie on multiple occasions in front of Hocutt before responding to the Tech coach in kind.
In exchange for Beard’s silence about Gillispie’s ill-advised stewardship of the program, Texas Tech has since paid Beard a hefty sum in an exit agreement that included a confidentiality clause. (Beard was not a source for this story, nor did he initiate or have any role whatsoever in its production or publication.)
(Someone needs a wakeup call. Literally)
Beyond rampant, voluntary staff defections and the alarming circumstances surrounding Beard’s departure, Tech officials also have current concerns about Gillispie’s increasingly erratic behavior and well-chronicled fondness for, shall we say, a spirited off-court lifestyle.