Billy Gillispie, the former head coach at Kentucky, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech, has landed a new job in Division I college basketball. He'll be guiding the Tarleton State Texans through their transition up to D1.
Gillispie spent the last five years at Ranger College, a junior college program in Texas. There, he racked up an official record of 103-62, which is driven way down by a forfeited season in his first year. On the record books, that counts as an 0-38 campaign, but the team was 31-7 on the court. His record is 134-31 without those forfeitures.
Before that, he had an up-and-down career throughout college basketball. He led UTEP to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2004, giving him a boost up to the Texas A&M job. He was 70-26 in College Station, including a Sweet 16 run in 2007. He was hired away by Kentucky, but only lasted two seasons, going 40-27 and failing to get out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament in his only trip.
Gillispie's most recent D1 stint was at Texas Tech in 2011-12, a deeply unsuccessful one-year run in which the team went just 8-23 with one Big 12 win. The season was besieged by allegations of player mistreatment. He wound up stepping down due to his own health concerns, which have been a lingering issue for him. Now, he's back on the sideline for Tarleton, as the team is set to join the WAC in July.
In a way, Tarleton represents a return to the most successful portion of his coaching career. The school is in the Texas A&M system, and the school's release reads like something of a homecoming.
"Wow, what a blessing," said Billy Gillispie, in the school's announcement of his hire. "I've always believed I have been the luckiest man alive and today continues to illustrate that thought.
"I promise to make the most of this opportunity and honor everyone involved. I'm looking forward to helping make great things happen as we move to the NCAA Division I level," he continued.
The school is set to join New Mexico State, Seattle U, and Grand Canyon among others that have had success in the WAC in recent years. We'll see how much of a difference having more of a brand name on the sideline will be.