Well, that’s over.
Most Kentucky fans by now had mentally moved on to the next chapter already, but there was this cloud drifting in the beautiful blue sky of Kentucky basketball leading up to the 2009-2010 season.
How appropriate, then, that the University, in settling all litigation with fired coach Billy Gillispie, has eradicated that cloud just three days before the team officially introduces itself to the world on Big Blue Madness.
It wasn’t cheap though. Billy Gillispie argued that the school owed him a total of $6 million based on the years remaining on his infamous Memorandum of Understanding/contract. UK argued that they owed him nothing. It turns out that the two sides met almost smack dab in the middle on Tuesday, agreeing to a payment of approximately $2.98 million dollars for Gillispie to just walk away and deal with his criminal legal issues.
The University, now, can concentrate all of its energies on a season that will begin with as much optimism and excitement as anyone can remember.
Critics will say the University made a disastrous financial blunder in its handling of Gillispie and subsequent lavishing of new coach John Calipari with a massive contract. Die hards will say it is impossible to put on price on extricating the program from the reign of a now reviled coach and launching into the stratosphere in hiring Calipari.
I say, however, that the blunder came in the way the hiring process back in 2007 played out, not in the way that that disaster was rectified.
Gillispie, while likely happy to have the whole episode behind him, can’t be content with how things have unfolded. A disastrous season, alienated players and parents, a lost fan base, and very public DUI have turned his career into an uphill battle. Additionally, it was rumored that Gillispie was offered almost exactly the same payout months ago, prior to his most recent run-in with the law.
However, Gillispie’s trademark stubborness was not something he needed to hold onto at this point with legal bills mounting and no stream of income.
An agreement was in the best interests of all parties involved. Gillispie is now free to live his life and fight the uphill battle of an underdog that he has relished in the past. The University of Kentucky is free to focus on a basketball season that is only days away.