Texas Tech hires Billy Gillispie

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, 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

"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.