Low offer hastened Gillispie's lawsuit

Updated: October 16, 2009, 10:53 PM ET
Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- An attorney for former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie said Friday his client was reluctant to sue the school but decided he had no choice after receiving a settlement offer for less than one-sixth what he believed he was contractually owed.

Demetrious Anaipakos said in a phone interview that a $925,000 offer the university presented on May 1 was the only one the coach ever got after he was fired following two tumultuous seasons as the Wildcats' coach.

"He wasn't excited about suing anyone," Anaipakos said. "He's not a litigious person, but when considering that offer, he just determined the only way was to proceed to court."

The two sides settled this week for nearly $3 million, and Anaipakos said around $260,000 of that was attorney fees.

Although Gillispie and the school never signed a formal contract, a memorandum of understanding indicated he would receive $1.5 million for each of the four years left on his contract if terminated. Gillispie argued that meant UK owed him $6 million, but the university countered the terms weren't active because the formal employment agreement was never signed.

Anaipakos said he didn't consider the agreement a "split the baby settlement" because Gillispie's payout will come up front, rather than over a four-year period. In making the $925,000 offer, the university also suggested it would expire within days, he said.

In a statement confirming the settlement on Tuesday, the university said it would have no further comment. The agreement said the settlement was not an admission of liability and was made only to avoid further expense, controversy and litigation.

Anaipakos said it will also help free up Gillispie to pursue another coaching job.

"He's much more comfortable on a basketball court than a court of law," he said. "This allows him to focus his efforts on finding a program to do what he loves, which is coach college basketball. I expect he'll be back coaching very soon."

Gillispie filed the suit in federal court in Dallas, accusing the school's athletics association of breach of contract and fraud. The school later countersued in Kentucky.

The former coach still has one legal matter pending in Kentucky. He faces a possible trial in February for a drunken-driving case following an Aug. 27 traffic stop in Lawrenceburg during which officers said they smelled alcohol on his breath.

His lawyer says Gillispie is weighing a plea deal in the case.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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