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Kentucky fires Billy Gillispie

Coach is let go after two seasons when team fails to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.

March 28, 2009|Associated Press

Impatient for a winner, Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie as coach Friday after only two years, too many losses and too little appreciation for all the things that come with running college basketball's all-time winningest program.

Saying the Wildcats deserve a leader who understands "this is not just another coaching job," Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart and President Lee Todd made the unusual decision to dismiss Gillispie less than two years after he was hired to replace Tubby Smith.

"He's a good basketball coach," Barnhart said. "Sometimes it's just not the right fit and that's my responsibility."

Gillispie went 40-27 in two seasons with the Wildcats, including a 22-14 mark this year that tied for the second-most losses in the program's 106-year history. A stumble down the stretch left the Wildcats out of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.

And it seems it won't be Florida Coach Billy Donovan who will replace Gillispie.

"In response to the rumors circulating about my interest in other jobs, I wanted to address this as quickly as possible," he said in a statement. "I am committed to the University of Florida and look forward to continuing to build our program here."

Gillispie's job appeared to be in jeopardy after the Wildcats stumbled down the stretch, losing eight of their final 11 regular season games to squander a perfect 5-0 start in Southeastern Conference play.

Grant to Alabama

Anthony Grant has been hired as Alabama's coach after three successful years with Virginia Commonwealth, leaving a school with no football program to take over one where the gridiron reigns.

Grant and the Crimson Tide reached an "agreement in principle" and the coach will be formally introduced Sunday evening, Athletic Director Mal Moore said.

The 42-year-old Grant, a former Florida assistant, led VCU to two NCAA tournaments in three seasons. He becomes the most prominent black coach hired at Alabama and the first in the two major sports, football and men's basketball.

Calhoun speaks

Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun has acknowledged that he or his staff may have made mistakes in recruiting basketball player Nate Miles.

Calhoun said it's sometimes hard to determine what is or is not permissible under the NCAA's recruiting guidelines.

"Do I know if any has been made? No, I'm not making judgment one way or the other," Calhoun said. "I said could there have been a mistake made. . . . I have done this for 37 years. I truly believe that everything I have tried to do, I have done with a good, clean conscience and if we made a mistake, we'll find out about it. If we didn't, we will also find out about that."

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