Texas Tech hires Billy Gillispie

Updated: March 21, 2011, 4:00 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Billy Gillispie is returning to the Big 12 as coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Gillispie has agreed to a five-year contract, the school said Sunday in a news release.

"I am absolutely confident that he will lead our basketball program back to the national spotlight while positively representing our university," athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in the statement. "There are exciting years ahead for Red Raider basketball."

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal first reported Gillispie's hiring Sunday, which comes four days after the former Kentucky and Texas A&M coach interviewed with the newly installed Hocutt.

Gillispie Texas Tech is a great school that is located in a great community and is part of one of the toughest conferences in the country. I can't wait to get started.

-- Billy Gillispie

Gillispie, who replaces Pat Knight, will be introduced at a news conference in Lubbock on Wednesday morning. Hocutt interviewed Gillispie last Wednesday in Palm Beach, Fla.

"Texas Tech is a great school that is located in a great community and is part of one of the toughest conferences in the country," Gillispie said in the statement. "I can't wait to get started."

Texas Tech said before the Big 12 tournament that Knight would not return next season and Knight publicly endorsed Gillispie for the job.

Hocutt told The Associated Press on Sunday that he and Gillispie talked at length the past two weeks. They discussed Gillispie's arrest on drunken driving charges a few months after Kentucky fired him.

He said Gillispie is remorseful for his mistakes.

"He accepts full responsibility -- never pointing a finger at someone else, never blaming anyone else," Hocutt said. "The process and the journey where he's at today has been a learning one for him. He has pledged and shared his commitment to me to always represent Texas Tech in a first-class manner."

Gillispie's West Texas roots and his track record for picking up limping programs impressed Hocutt, he said.

"There's nobody in the country or maybe in the game ever that is as recognized for turning around basketball programs quicker than he has," Hocutt said. "He's a proven winner."

Gillispie, who also coached at Texas-El Paso, was fired at Kentucky after two tumultuous seasons.

He left Texas A&M to join the Wildcats, having led a sweeping turnaround in College Station that included back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, with a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2007.

In 2009, Kentucky fired Gillispie after the Wildcats went 40-27 in two seasons but missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in 17 years.

John Calipari, the former Memphis coach, replaced him.

A "good recruiter and a good salesman" is how university chancellor Kent Hance described the native of Abilene, a few hours east of Lubbock, this week. He met with Gillispie last weekend in Dallas.

"He's very personable and I think has an idea what needs to be done in the basketball program and would be a good person for Texas Tech," Hance said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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