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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And More On UK And John Calipari Impending Marriage: Another Rushed Hiring Decision?

Another rushed hiring decision?

A turnover-filled season ended with one final turnover for the University of Kentucky Wildcats — a turnover at the top of the men's basketball program.

No, Billy Gillispie never "fit" at UK. He never "got it" in regard to the very public demands on the occupant of arguably the most public job in the commonwealth. And that speaks volumes about the vetting process that preceded his hiring two years ago.

Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. are familiar with what it takes to "nurture" Big Blue Nation, as Todd described it Friday. Considering Gillispie's failures in this regard, it's only logical to assume that a little legwork would have made it clear in 2007 that he would not fit the job.

Frankly, the whole Gillispie era at UK has been handled as sloppily as the Cats often handled the ball this season. Who, after all, lets a coach work for two years without a contract?

That suggests a lack of control at the top.

Two years ago, Barnhart — and since the buck stops at the top, Todd — spent more time looking at Gillispie's record for quick turnarounds of programs than they did looking at the man himself. News reports on Monday suggest the search for Gillispie's successor is being handled with similar haste.

You have to wonder: Why the rush? Why risk missing potential signs of trouble ahead? Why not take the time to do due diligence and get it right?

Messy partings with coaches are distracting at any time. Messy partings with coaches that can cost a university up to $6 million during times of economic distress and cutbacks in academic budgeting are extremely distracting, no matter what pot that $6 million comes from.

Mixing sports analogies, in a friendly game of golf, an errant drive off the first tee might earn you a mulligan, a second tee shot that counts as the first stroke of your round. But even in a friendly game of golf, you rarely ever get more than one mulligan per round.

In the hiring of basketball coaches, Barnhart has used his mulligan.

And by virtue of where that buck stops, Todd has, too.



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