The mother of a teenager at Billy Gillispie’s summer basketball camp claims in a letter to a top school administrator that the former Texas Tech coach repeatedly verbally abused her son, according to a document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
The woman wrote that other coaches at the camp told her 17-year-old son that Gillispie ”likes to pick someone and try to `break them’ for some reason,” and that the young man ”wasn’t doing anything wrong,” according to a letter to Texas Tech’s chancellor obtained through an open records request.
Gillispie resigned from Texas Tech on Thursday, citing health concerns after he was hospitalized twice in the past month. The 52-year-old Gillispie stepped down amid allegations he mistreated players on his team.
The mother’s name is redacted in the Aug. 20 letter to university chancellor Kent Hance. No written reply was made but Hance called the Texas Tech alum, who is a teacher, to discuss the matter, officials said.
On the camp’s first day in late June the woman’s son, now a high school senior, overthrew a pass to another camper.
”It happens,” the mother wrote in her letter. ”That’s the only thing he thought brought on the barrage of insults spurted from the mouth of your coach Gillispie. This was the first of many such verbal attacks.”
On Aug. 29, several Texas Tech players went to athletic director Kirby Hocutt with claims of mistreatment by Gillispie.
Two days later, the school announced it was scrutinizing Gillispie and his leadership. The same day CBSsports.com reported that Gillispie made players practice long hours, which led to injuries.
Just hours before Gillispie and Hocutt were to meet Aug. 31 to discuss the players’ claims, the coach called 911 and was taken to a Lubbock hospital where he stayed for six days. A week later Gillispie traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he said he was treated for kidney problems, abnormal headaches and high blood pressure. He returned to Lubbock Sept. 14.
He said doctors ordered him to avoid stress for 30 days. Hocutt removed Gillispie from making day-to-day decisions about the program so he could focus on his health. Chris Walker, who took over day-to-day operations, will remain in that position until an interim head coach is chosen.
On Sept. 5, the school disclosed it had reprimanded Gillispie and an assistant in January for exceeding practice-time limits last fall. Hocutt docked the team twice the number of hours that Gillispie had exceeded during a two-week period in October, or 12 hours and 20 minutes.
The NCAA allows 20 hours of practice per week.
Gillispie did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Athletic department spokesman Blayne Beal said Hocutt declined comment on the latest allegations against Gillispie.
The mother also said Gillispie had little interaction with the campers, ”other than to walk around and briefly look on as they worked out – and scream rude remarks, apparently, as he saw fit.”
She thought about pulling her son from the overnight camp June 24-27 but she and her husband, also an educator, decided it was important for her son to learn how to deal with all types of people, the letter states. Her son just stayed away from Gillispie, befriended other coaches and ”did his best to stay with them, so there would be witnesses,” the mother wrote.
Nothing excuses Gillispie’s actions, she wrote near the end of the 1 1/2-page letter to Hance.
”Coach Gillispie’s behavior was inappropriate and unnecessary,” the mother wrote. ”Our job as teachers is to motivate and educate and empower. It is not our job to attempt to break a child’s spirit through constant insult and negative feedback.”